Eight staff members recognized at inaugural celebration

September 29th, 2022

Faculty and staff at Texas A&M School of Dentistry took time out of their day Sept. 28 to attend the inaugural Staff Awards Celebration. The event, held on the 6th floor of the Main Building, was established to recognize staff members and give administration the opportunity to thank the school’s many employees for their hard work. The afternoon featured games, snacks, door prizes and, of course, awards for eight staff members.

Awards were given in three categories. One for new employees, one for staff excellence and one for teamwork.

New Employee Awards:

The New Employee Award recognizes a staff member with six months to two years of continuous service at the dental school. This award celebrates a new staff member who excels in their position and service to the school. Recipients of the award are:

Kalin Evans receiving her award, alongside Dr. Garcia and Dr. Polycarpou

Kalin Evans, patient services associate in clinical affairs, who joined the dental school Sept. 1, 2021. Evans was nominated for her integrity and caring attitude towards students and patients. Highlighted in her nomination was her personality, work ethic, and good sense of humor.

Amanda Rorie, dental dispensing technician in clinical affairs, who began working at the school  Jan. 14, 2021. Rorie was nominated for being hard working and dependable, and always being willing to take on a new job and learn something new.

Staff Excellence Awards:

The Staff Excellence Award focuses on a staff member with two or more years of continuous service to the school. It is in recognition of the employee’s dedication to the School of Dentistry and their exceptional performance. Recipients of the award are:

Janet Vielma receiving her award, alongside Dr. Garcia and Dr. Polycarpou

Janet Vielma, senior administrative associate in oral surgery, who has worked at the dental school for 20 years. In her nomination, Vielma is said to have spent the past few years handling duties normally performed by two staff individuals, as well as assisting in other clinical and administrative duties. She was praised for her work ethic and commitment to the school.

Roxanne Edwards receiving her award, alongside Dr. Garcia and Dr. Polycarpou

Roxanne Edwards, dental imaging technician in radiology, who has 22 years of service with the dental school. In her nomination, Edwards is described as a warm, empathetic and knowledgeable presence in her department. She is focused on treating patients with the best care possible and helping residents.

Teamwork Award:

The Staff Team Award focuses on a team composed of staff with one or more years of service to the dental school. This award is in recognition of the team’s contributions to the School of Dentistry. Recipients of the award are:

L to R: Dr. Garcia, Demetreas Wheaton, Gerelda Buggage, Ana Ceballos, Angela Lee-Noles and Dr. Polycarpou

Angela Lee-Noles, surgical assistant in graduate periodontics, who has 35 years of service with the dental school.

Ana Ceballos, surgical assistant in graduate periodontics, who has been working with the school for two years.

Gerelda Buggage, clinic coordinator in graduate periodontics, who has been working with the school 16 years.

Demetreas Wheaton, surgical assistant in graduate periodontics, who has been working with the school for eight years.

Each staff member on this team was described as “a unique piece to the perfect puzzle.” In their nomination, they were commended for continuing their work through staff changes, working well together through many challenges and maintaining quality care for patients.

The idea for the staff awards came from Dr. Andreas Polycarpou, acting dean. He says he has been nothing but impressed with the staff here. He wanted to ensure that, before his time as acting dean came to an end, he made an effort to show the staff they were appreciated.

“Lots of times, people don’t realize that to make things run you need an amazing group of people,” Polycarpou says. “In this case we have slightly over 200 staff members. There are amazing people who work very hard here.”

Polycarpou was joined by Dr. Lily T. Garcia, who will officially begin her new position as the school’s permanent dean on Oct. 3. She wanted to congratulate the award winners and to say seeing the quality of the school’s staff was making her even more excited to start work.

“Dean Polycarpou is right,” Garcia says. “It’s a team of people. It’s not just faculty, it’s faculty and staff that make this happen for our patients and students. I’m so glad to be here; you can’t imagine the warm welcome and emails I’ve received from alumni and friends. It speaks well of Texas A&M School of Dentistry, because our reputation is nationally recognized. Thank you for doing what you do.”

Rebecca Egbert, chair of the staff advisory council that reviewed the award nominations, says that this will become an annual event for the school. She says she was thrilled to see many nominations in each award category. She also commented on the variety of the nominees and those who were nominating them. The committee received nomination letters from almost every level of staff at the school. If the nominee you wrote in for didn’t win this year, she says, try again next year because there are many at the school deserving of recognition.

“It was really difficult looking at all our amazing nominations,” Egbert says. “Everyone who was nominated was a good choice.”

— Caleb Vierkant