NSLS chapter applauds 3 faculty members, inducts 50 more students

Closely reviewing an essay together during office hours, chatting in the Provincial House kitchen, assisting with internship ideas – ask University of Missouri–St. Louis students about their experience of top-notch teaching on campus, and they describe more than just what happens in seminars and lecture halls.

NSLS induction ceremony on Dec. 2, 2015

UMSL’s National Society of Leadership and Success chapter recently honored three student-nominated faculty members and inducted 50 new student members. Among the crowd gathered for the event were (from left) Jenna Bartak, Afton Joiner, Teresa Helms, Fatima Amtashar, Je Yeon Hur, Michelle Merli, Lingru Kong, Valentina Emiliani, Raed Al-Dugum and Aaron Pelloquin. (Photos courtesy of the Office of Student Life)

“These professors listen, inspire, promote creativity and care about students inside and outside of the classroom,” says Michelle Merli, president of UMSL’s National Society of Leadership and Success chapter, which honored several UMSL faculty members for excellence in teaching at an annual induction ceremony in the Millennium Student Center Dec. 2.

Merli, who is a Pierre Laclede Honors College student, nominated Assistant Teaching Professor Gerianne Friedline for one of the student-initiated awards. Chemistry faculty member Anthony Mannino and Ekin Pellegrini, associate professor of Global Leadership and Management, also were honored by the NSLS chapter.

“Professor Friedline really opened my mind and challenged me to do better – I think she is a true leader,” Merli says of the honors college faculty member. “[Interactions with her] showed me that I needed to think more openly and attempt to understand the complexities of things before making assumptions.”

Pellegrini’s nominator, senior business major Lingru Kong, says she has appreciated the professor’s overarching goal of making courses and assignments as beneficial as possible to her students.

“She thinks more about the students than herself,” Kong says. “She also shares her own real-life experiences and lessons with us.”

Mannino is known for going out of his way to ensure that students understand the concepts covered in class. He takes the time to guide students step by step and finding the best ways to approach difficult problems.

Associate Teaching Professor Marc Spingola (at left), keynote speaker at the Dec. 2 ceremony, stands with Aaron Pelloquin, graduate assistant for Leadership & Training in the Office of Student Life.

Associate Teaching Professor Marc Spingola (left), keynote speaker at the Dec. 2 ceremony, stands with Aaron Pelloquin, graduate assistant for Leadership & Training in the Office of Student Life.

In addition to applauding the three faculty honorees and hearing from keynote speaker Marc Spingola, associate teaching professor and a previous NSLS Excellence in Teaching Award recipient at the event, the chapter inducted 50 UMSL students as new members of the society.

“Our chapter was founded in December 2011 to develop a community of leaders here at UMSL,” says Jenna Bartak, coordinator of Leadership & Training in the Office of Student Life. “Since then, we have inducted 339 members.”

Students are selected and invited to join NSLS based on credit hours and academic standing. At last month’s ceremony, six current members were also recognized with a Nationally Engaged Leader Award. They include UMSL students Chloe Arms, Lauren Becker, Maryam Fakiri, Ciara Reeder, Ashley Sims and Ryan Zull.

Merli hopes to see the student-driven organization continue to grow and says her own involvement in it has challenged her in big ways. Kong echoes this, noting that membership involves orientation, leadership training, teamwork, volunteerism and more.

“I enjoy commitment to these [activities], because I want to be a better me,” says Kong, who is also a member of the chapter’s executive board. “It’s been great to practice my leadership skills, public speaking and event planning skills as well.”

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