At the end of the spring semester, the Phi Theta Kappa honor society named Shawn Japhet, full time tutor at Otero Junior College, Mentor of the Year. This was the first year for the award, which was determined by popular vote of students in the PTK Chapter.
 
“Receiving this award was a huge surprise and honor for me as the other nominees were great,” Japhet said. “Since it was driven by students, I feel it gives me validation by the students that I am doing something right and motivation to keep working with students and work harder.”
 
Japhet has worked at OJC for 15 years. When she first began at the institution, she was a tutor for a hearing-impaired student, as well as serving other students as a tutor in business, math, and English.

From there, she was promoted to director of the Student Success Center under the Title V Grant, where she had the opportunity to assist in designing the Learning Commons and assisting students with disabilities. When the Title V Grant ended, she resumed tutoring full time.
 
“I really enjoy working with our students and love it when they ‘get it.’ Success for some requires a lot of hard work and struggles, and I continually encourage them to do their best, keep striving and never give up,” Japhet explained. 

“I've told many students I am their biggest cheerleader. Getting to know students and support them in their activities is another thing I enjoy. My biggest challenge is getting students to come for assistance before it is too late to improve their grade; it is always easier when they seek help from the beginning.”
 
Japhet attributes her own success with students to her supervisor and coworkers, who continually support her in her efforts of assisting students. Last fall, Japhet worked with 85 individual students averaging over 30 face-to-face contact hours assisting students, as well as teaching Plus Sessions, which are designed for groups of students to attend, reinforcing material covered in class to increase student success.
 
Aside from her regular duties, Japhet is also the advisor for the Non-traditional Student Organization, which is extremely active in fundraising, and put their funds to good use through various day trips and excursions. Japhet enjoys the different perspective and mindset offered by nontraditional students, who often have families to support outside of their academic endeavors. She says the club is a great place for nontraditional students to surround themselves with a support team of other students facing similar battles.
 
I would like to thank PTK for developing this award,” Japhet concluded. “OJC is a great place to work. Our students’ names are known, and the staff and faculty support each of them.

"OJC may be small, but we offer big opportunities. Being an alum of OJC, I understand the quality of education provided and know it is a great place to begin higher education.”
 
For more information, contact Kaysie Schmidt, PTK advisor, at 719-384-6854 or Kaysie.Schmidt@ojc.edu.