Jackie Sheridan, Director of the Wake Forest Scholars Program, has been awarded the 2022 College Board of Visitors Staff Leadership Award.
Jackie was selected as this year’s recipient for her significant contributions to the University through her comprehensive approach to Wake Forest’s Signature Scholars, ensuring their success and flourishing while on campus, and assisting those students navigating the complexities of post-graduate scholarships and fellowships.
“Jackie’s knowledge of scholarship opportunities is expansive, and her commitment and detailed attention to every student who seeks her support and encouragement has quickly endeared her to our students. Through her engagement and outreach, more students than ever are seeing the full array of opportunities that exist to continue their education and make a difference in the world. This recognition from the CBOV underscores the significant contributions that Jackie has made to our community and the lives of our students,” said Interim Dean of the College Tony Marsh.
Since beginning her position in Summer 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, Jackie has met challenge after challenge with energy and creativity. Whether through drop-in hours sitting on a picnic blanket in the Mag Quad or using Calendly to let students arrange meetings for her at their convenience, Jackie made her presence accessible to every student who has had an interaction with the Scholars Program. “Advising students for competitive scholarships requires an in-depth and ongoing knowledge of each student … and students who meet with me about the Fulbright grant refer to Jackie with great familiarity, as though she has been on campus for 10 years, not two,” said Alyssa Howards, Fulbright Program Advisor and Associate Professor of German and Russian.
The scholarship process can be daunting and lengthy, requiring several rounds of interviews for certain positions. To recognize the effort put into the process, Jackie found a way to celebrate all applicants, no matter the outcome of their attempts at grants and scholarships, and keep a holistic approach centered on the student’s growth rather than the result.
The “Those Who Dared” event, organized by the Scholars Program last year, honored all students who applied for scholarships or fellowships. “This was such an amazing opportunity to gather — not only to celebrate the students who put in countless hours but the mentors and committee members who help these students, whether through direct mentorships or reviewing applications and interviewing students. The fact that Jackie wanted to find a way to celebrate the students, even those who didn’t win an award, the mentors, and the committee members says a lot about her style of leadership and commitment to celebrating others,” said Acacia Fike Nelson, Scholars Program Specialist.
Jackie has also shown tremendous leadership over a new structure within the Scholars’ Office that includes monthly check-ins with a small group of faculty advisors she oversees. “During these meetings, she gives my colleagues and me ample time to simply ask questions of each other and report on our experiences, as well as offer advice. By doing so, she has created a collaborative community of advisors who feel truly heard and valued,” Howards said. Jackie’s pay-it-forward attitude also led to the creation of the first annual mentorship award, in order to recognize faculty members who have contributed to student success.