Nakama Award

In 1995, Eileen Coughlin, Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services, introduced a new tradition of acknowledging staff members and their contributions with a Nakama award. Each year, division members have an opportunity to nominate a colleague who has fostered the division’s traditions by excelling in any of the following areas:

  • Demonstrate outstanding commitment to the development or support of students
  • Create or significantly contribute to initiatives which promote student success
  • Strengthen the Division’s work within the University and larger community
  • Provide dedicated and consistently excellent service to students and/or the Division


Image of Nakama 2019 Award Winners Debby Short and Cynthia Sandstrom with Melynda Huskey, Ph.D, VP for Enrollment and Student Services

Debby Short and Cynthia Sandstrom, Nakama’s 2019 Award recipients


We’ve all heard the proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” meaning it takes an entire community to help support children as they grow and face new experiences. In a similar fashion, our division collectively works to support our students as they navigate the college experience. Some of our roles are very outward facing - in direct contact with students on a daily basis whether that be the custodial staff interacting with students in the residence halls, front counter staff addressing students’ questions or meeting one-on-one with a student about a specific need. Other roles within our division may have little to no contact with students yet the work is essential to our operations and to ensuring support systems can carry out their work. This year, Vice President Huskey selected two recipients for the Nakama award: Cynthia Sandstrom and Debby Short. Our first recipient, Cynthia Sandstrom, was described in her nomination as:

  • A vital force who is knowledgeable, helpful, patient, kind, and dedicated.
  • Able to balance all of the work that comes from colleagues as well as our students with a positive attitude and commitment to work-life balance.
  • She always puts education first and is consistently supportive of the learning that occurs with our busy students’ lives while trying navigate through a complicated fiscal bureaucracy.
  • She strives for student success, no matter the stress that comes with that. This past year she not only powered through a change to the club purchase request system in WIN, which was a difficult change for her office, but also a new contracting system.
  • She has also been an active participant in the Dean of Student’s Cultural Competency program. Her voice has been an important addition to that work.

Our second recipient, Debby Short, has been serving at Western for 24 years. While her day to day work doesn’t involve interaction with students and might largely go unnoticed to many members of the division, her support to staff across the division is mission critical.

Words that were used to describe Debby included resourceful, thorough, ultra-conscientious, detail-oriented, and a willing teacher. She has been an active member on committees to review new systems and technologies and to provide input as to how these systems may or may not improve the ways in which we conduct business as well as representing the division in regards to policy development for a number of business operations including travel, purchasing, fund management and personnel hiring processes.

She is the glue holding information together across various departments and a content expert when it comes to fiscal operations. As the division has been undergoing its reorganization over the past two years, she has been an invaluable member in that process. In addition to her regular responsibilities, she has navigated the way through a plethora of e-sign forms and PAs necessary to update information in all of our various standalone systems, she has trained staff new to roles involving fiscal management, she has answered countless questions, and through it all has remained patient, kind and unflappable.

As with many professions, when budgetary issues are handled well, great work can largely go unnoticed. Please join me in taking notice and congratulating Cynthia and Debby as the recipients of this year’s award.


Cynthia Sandstrom, Viking Union


Debby Short, Enrollment and Student Services


Amy Appleton, Academic Advising Center


Christian Urcia, University Residences


Tina Loudon, Academic and Career Development Services


Nate Panelo, Ethnic Student Center


Dong Vo, University Residences


Janet McLeod, Enrollment and Student Services


Lori Larkin, Admissions


Sally Abbott, University Residences


John "Fuzzy" Fuchs, Athletics


Jean Meyer, Financial Aid


Michael Postlewait, University Residences


Kurt Willis, University Residences


Dixie Doran, Registrar's Office


Lynda Goodrich, Athletics


Chris Roselli, Admissions


Connie Copeland, Special Assistant to VP


Jules McLeland, Child Development Center


Emily Gibson, Student Health Center


Margie Conway, Admissions


Jennifer Pickeral, Admissions


Kevin Majkut, Student Activities


Lynn Thomas, Registrar's Office


Deborah Frost, University Residences


Renée Murray, Career Services Center


David Brunnemer, Student Support Services


Patricia Fabiano, Prevention Health and Wellness


Anna Carey, New Student Programs/Family Outreach


Sonia Arevalo-Hayes, Student Support Services


Kay Rich, University Residences


Jack Smith, Student Activities

Their names have been added to a plaque that resides in the Office of the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services.