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Boston College’s Melinda Stoops Wins National Award, Recognized for Work in Student Affairs

A national award in the profession of student affairs in higher education was awarded to Boston College’s Melinda Stoops, Associate Vice President for Student Health and Wellness, on March 12th, 2024. 

Stoops has been a prominent member of the BC community since she first began working on campus in 2017. Her role is nothing short of incredible: not only does she oversee student wellness departments and programs, but Stoops also serves as the school’s Title IX coordinator, helping students with instances of sexual violence and providing them with the resources they need. 

After years of dedication, Stoop’s contribution to her field has been rewarded. The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, or NASPA, presented her with the 2024 Pillars of the Profession award at their 2024 major conference. The award looks to recognize individuals in student affairs who have done great service to their area of work.

As explained on NASPA’s website, the recipients “have created a lasting important on the institution(s)/organization(s) at which they have worked, leaving a legacy of extraordinary service recognized by a cross-section of institutional/organizational stakeholders.” 

To receive this honor, recipients must first be nominated by colleagues or students, followed by the writing of two letters in support of their work. The foundation will then review the nominees and select the Pillars. As Stoops explained in an interview, being chosen for the award serves as “a recognition of the work that each person has done in the profession.” 

Yet, this is not the first time that her contributions to the profession have been recognized. Throughout her extensive career in student affairs, Stoops has won several other awards. These include the national AVP Senior-Level Student Affairs Professional award, the Boston College Division of Student Affairs Excellence in Service award, the Administrator of the Year award from her time at Framingham State University, and most recently, the Outstanding Contribution to Literature and/or Research Award, which recognized her educational presentations to the professionals in her field as well as her service work with NASPA. 

The Pillars of the Profession award, however, is the highest recognition yet. In an interview with Stoops, she reflected on her utmost respect for previous Pillars, explaining that she always viewed them as an inspiration. 

“It’s such an honor to be part of that group,” Stoops said.  

Still, the Pillar’s journey does not end with the award. As explained by NASPA, “the nominator and selected Foundation Board member will raise $3,500 in the name of the individual being nominated to further research and scholarship in student affairs.”

Stoops will work with a group of people supporting her cause to help raise money to support the efforts of the foundation. Stoops explained that it is “a way to give back to the profession,” making it that much more rewarding. 

During her time at Boston College, Stoops has faced a variety of challenges that led her to her growth in the field, including the COVID-19 pandemic. She was a large part of the effort to make the campus a safe space for students. Alongside her role in the COVID testing efforts, Stoops noted that there were “emotional struggles on students” as well as just the physical ones, leaving “lasting mental health challenges.” 

“I am there to enjoy [the students’] victories but also to support them at their lows,” Stoops explained.

She cherishes her role in the community and especially appreciates the trust that students put in her, “It is an honor.”

Stoops hopes to “create an environment that encourages [students] to develop academically and intellectually, but also emotionally” in order to “become the people they are striving to become.” It is undoubtedly a challenging role in the world of higher education, and yet she has been able to become that support system that so many students need. 

Currently, Stoops is working on established wellness centers in each of the first-year student communities, with one on upper campus and the other on Newton campus. The goal is to provide a space where students can go to relax during periods of stress. She is hoping to have them implemented by the spring semester. 

Still, what lies ahead in the field of student affairs is unknown. Stoops acknowledged this, “When things happen in the world, we have to respond... It is an ever-changing reality of work.”

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