Caring Bobcats

Caring Bobcat words in a graphic with stylized person and bobcat paw

In these unprecedented times, many members of the University community are going above and beyond to solve problems and provide services to our students, employees and the greater community. We recognize and salute these Caring Bobcats!

Nominate a Caring Bobcat. Share your story or the story of someone you know who has stepped up to meet the needs of students, faculty, staff or members of the University community and beyond. 

Jennifer Brown
Jennifer Brown

Student Success Coach
Brown has been nominated for providing opportunities for students to get moving while also doing her advising sessions from home. “As Student Success Coaches, we're actively engaged with first-year students. In many conversations, there was a repeated pattern amongst us all – not enough movement! To address this need, I started identifying free workout resources for students. We set weekend virtual workout sessions to improve our well-being and to bring a sense of FSU community online in their homes.” (June 1, 2020)

Harry Fike

Office of Information Technology
Harry FikeFike worked tirelessly to set students up with loaner laptops and wifi connections. “He has literally chased down UPS drivers to get the computers delivered to our students as quickly as possible! He is helpful, generous with his time and very knowledgeable while communicating with students,” says his nominator. Fike says he and his team have managed to set up, pick up and deliver more than 120 laptops for faculty, staff and students “for the FSU community to continue to work, teach, and learn remotely. It can be difficult to diagnose and fix computer problems remotely, but it is a challenge my team has stepped up to with great success. Outside of FSU, I enabled my church to switch to online services within the first week of the shutdown and have advised many others on how to use technology to stay connected during this time.” (June 1, 2020)

Sarina Gant

Admissions Counselor
Sarina GrantGant has gone above and beyond in connecting with prospective students by frequently adjusting her schedule to evenings and weekends to be able to talk to the students’ parents and help ease their anxiety about the college application process. Since working from home, Gant has found it easier to find time to build relationships with incoming students from around the state. “Knowing that we are making life-changing decisions for students makes it all worth it!” she said. (June 1, 2020)

Sara K. Hughes

Graduate Student, Education
Sara HughesHughes was nominated for her service on the front lines as a local EMT while balancing being a graduate student. “I feel honored to be recognized for my part in helping to keep our community safe and healthy,” she said. “I am a volunteer Emergency Medical Technician through George's Creek Ambulance Service in Lonaconing, Maryland … I hope to work as a wilderness EMT/educator with the National Park Service.” (June 1, 2020)

Shawn Jones

Student Support Services
Shawn JonesA student nominated Jones for going above and beyond to help at a moment’s notice. “Although these have been trying times, a student's success is still a top priority,” he said.  “All things normal has been thrown out the windows, and I've been meeting students where they are. This comes with 9 p.m. advising appointments because it’s the only time they may have access to a computer.” (June 1, 2020)

Yolanda Moses

Senior psychology major
Yolanda MosesEarly in the semester, Moses started a business, Soul Food Sunday, and donated half of her profits to charity groups such as Actions Against Hunger, which provides food for people in third-world countries. Once the COVID crisis hit, she as donated “donated tons of masks and homemade remedy tea to friends whose families have been directly affected,” she said. She was nominated by one of those family members of a COVID patient. (June 1, 2020)

Dr. Evan Offstein

Department of Management
Evan OffsteinA student recognized Offstein for personally reaching out to students by calling to just check in. “This simple act of caring shows a lot of compassion during these stressful times,” commented the student. Evan said he made it his priority to call three students a week, not to talk about work or school, but to see how they're holding up. (June 1, 2020)

Kasey Taylor

First-year theatre major
Kasey TaylorTaylor wanted to connect with her community in Frederick, Md., during this COVID crisis, so every Friday she volunteers for Blessings in a Backpack, distributing meals to community kids. Taylor, who is participating in the program through the AmeriCorps program sponsored by FSU, said, “It’s a great way to give to the community and help others in need. Even behind a mask, I have a huge smile on my face when I see how happy the children are. We are still giving even through these hard times!”  (June 1, 2020)

Person with donated mask Social media post of persons with masks Assorted masksDr. Sunshine Brosi
Associate Professor/Department of Biology
Sunshine Brosi has sewn and distributed face masks, over 150 of which were donated to greenhouse workers and elders of the Lakota (South Dakota) and Inupiat and Yupik (Alaska) tribes with whom Sunshine has worked. Donations from Western Maryland recipients, as well as personal funds, help to make these free offerings possible. (May 18, 2020)

Tracy Edwards Tracy Edwards
Lecturer/Department of Geography
Edwards continuously checks in with her students since transitioning online. She began with a quiz asking each student how they felt, about their experiences with online learning, and how they could continue to work on projects and assignments remotely. She leaves detailed comments on each assignment, making sure to continue discussions as in the classroom setting. “She genuinely cares about each of her students and has tried to make the transition process as smooth as possible, while taking into consideration that this might not be easy for all of us,” her nomination read. Mask in photo made by Sunshine Brosi (see above). (May 18, 2020)

Dr. Travis English Painting by Travis English
Associate Professor/Department of Visual Arts
English provides constant support to the Art Department with exceptional communication, including providing input into the logistics of graduating seniors, who are missing a physical senior exhibition. “I'm honored to be nominated, but more to work with colleagues who have adapted so readily to our unforeseen circumstances,” English said. “I’m particularly proud of our students in the Visual Arts Department, who have completed the semester with remarkable and inspiration aplomb, continuing to explore themselves and their art with creativity and vitality. They have kept me going through all of this.” Photo is a work-in-progress quarantine painting. (May 18, 2020)

Jessica Rothe Jessica Rothe
Graduate Student, Recreation, Parks & Sport Management program
Rothe aspires to earn a doctorate and become a professor in the area of outdoor recreation, parks and tourism. She currently works long hours due to COVID-19 at a pharmacy and volunteers as an EMT – in addition to finishing her final project for her master’s degree. “I started working in the pharmacy my freshmen year of undergraduate as a way to get through school … with COVID-19, it has been crazy! ... I am a nationally registered advanced EMT and volunteer as much I can to try and lower the burden a bit!” (May 18, 2020)

Caitlin Rund Caitlin Rund Caitlin Rund playing music
Senior, Music Major
As a Student Success Mentor, Rund is always making sure the first-year students in the Music Department are OK, emailing and texting students even after her mentor duties have finished. Rund says that she is learning as much from her student mentees about being a “successful musician, a complete human, and a supportive friend. … I thought about what I would want and need to hear. … I told them that it was okay to feel what they were feeling, to be sad and to miss their friends, but I reminded them that this wasn't the end, nor should it stop them from staying connected.” (May 18, 2020)

Dr. Amit Shah
Professor/Department of Management
Shah has made even more of a sacrifice to be present, to invest in his students’ growth, and to rise to the occasion. “With the new pass/fail option, it would have been easy for Dr. Shah to see student apathy toward class as a signal to do less. Instead, he has chosen the more challenging path by doing more — investing over 100% when little appreciation is returned. ... He provides, cares, and adapts so that the FSU family lives on.” Shah praised his students for adapting and doing well despite the circumstances. “This was a learning experience for me as well.” (May 18, 2020)

Katie Weir Katie Weir
Assistant Director/Residence Life
Weir holds regular Residence Hall Associations via Microsoft Teams to keep the organization moving forward, making sure the members are adjusting to work in quarantine and offering a helping head. “Katie is a wonderful advisor that offers a caring smile that makes our organization more enjoyable.” She has also worked with the Residence Life Office staff to make sure resident students are taken care of. “We realize how difficult it must be for our students who are unable to go home right now, so the least we can do is make sure they have the supplies and support that they need to be comfortable and successful,” Weir said. (May 18, 2020)

Keegan Wolf Keegan Wolf
Junior/Pre-engineering program
Wolf, President of Phi Mu Delta, uses the online chapter meeting time as an opportunity for members to talk about their challenges and successes. He started a virtual study hall session to provide academic and motivational support. He’s hosted chat rooms and game nights to build camaraderie. “During this time, I felt like one of the most important things is staying connected to others. … I wanted [my fraternity] brothers to know that they have a space readily available to them whenever they needed anything,” Wolf said. (May 18, 2020)

Aunya Brown PhotoAunya Brown
Hall Director/Residence Life Office
Brown has remained on-duty for our residential students, and she has worked incredibly hard to ensure they are thriving personally and academically. She has also been a great mentor for our remaining RAs; she makes sure they feel supported and connected during this difficult time. She has been a crucial part of the transition to Edgewood Commons. “Making sure the students are comfortable to ensure they are able to complete this semester successfully is our top priority,” Brown said. (May 11, 2020)

Gabe Fernandez PhotoGabe Fernandes
Hall Director/Residence Life Office
Fernandes has really stepped up to support our remaining residential students during this challenging time. He has checked in on students who are struggling to adjust to online classes and the new living arrangement, and he offers support and resources. Fernandes always listens to student concerns and helps them find solutions. He is the first to volunteer to help with a project, and his work ethic is unmatched. He has been a crucial part of the transition to Edgewood Commons. (May 11, 2020)

Ben Forrest PhotoBenjamin Forrest
Senior Political Science Major/ VP of SGA and President, USM Student Council
Forrest is meeting with campus leadership and system leadership to make contingency plans and show student input on a variety of different issues. He says that he’s continued to do what he would do any other day – “so that students have a voice at the campus and system level.” As President of USM Student Council, Ben is serving on the Return to Campus Advisory Group under the Chancellor’s Office, providing student input on recommendations for re-opening of the USM system campuses. (May 11, 2020)

Kristine McGeeDr. Kristine McGee
Associate Professor, Educational Professions/USMH
McGee a colleague at another school started a webinar series for student teacher interns on educational technology tools. “Her contact gave students a sense of purpose and comfort that they can still make a difference as teachers even if they can't be with their mentor and students,” shares her nominator. “Students were hungry for anything that they could do to help their mentors, and we polled them weekly to find out what they wanted to learn,” McGee said. The webinar gave the participants a network of support to overcome the challenges in teaching that everyone was experiencing at the time. (May 11, 2020)

Briona Stauffer photoBriona Stauffer
Sophomore Health Science Major
Stauffer is managing multiple roles to help others. A full-time student with two jobs, she is a math and science tutor and has continued tutoring virtually, and she works 32 hours a week as a certified nursing assistant for a home health agency taking care of elderly patients. She is proud of her part in keeping patients out of nursing homes, where they are at higher risk for COVID-19. She also was a Relay for Life captain, representing the pre-professional medical society, during this spring’s virtual event. (May 11, 2020)

Duane Miller photo kevin-fearon Face Shield photo 2 Duane Miller (senior academic lab manager); Kevin Fearon (research machinist); Nick Harris (junior mechanical engineering major); and Jake Nowaczyk and Maureen Lavan (President Nowaczyk’s family) 

Two 3-D printers in the Additive Engineering Lab have been churning out adjustable headband parts for face shields, thanks to the efforts of Miller and Fearon, who have been operating the printers; Harris, the student lab manager who provided technical assistance remotely; and Lavan and Jake Nowaczyk, who are fitting them with transparent face shields. The group is part of a team working together to provide protective gear for those workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of the first few days they produced more than 40 headbands, and they have since produced over 200 shields. The completed face shields are being delivered to local nursing homes, physicians, social service organizations and the hospital as well as FSU Police. They’re now working on supplying Frostburg City Police. “Their efforts certainly helped to fill a critical need during this health emergency as the supply of PPE is critically short,” their nomination read. (May 11, 2020)

Brenna Bohn
Senior Health Science Major
Bohn is an emergency room scribe at UPMC-Western Maryland. Being ready for any and all emergencies is what she deals with every day at her job, and the COVID-19 crisis has reinforced that. While performing this important role for our community, Bohn is maintaining a full load of courses at FSU.” (May 4, 2020)

Robert Branham
Graduate Student/Recreation, Parks, and Sport Management
Bob is the deputy director for Calvert County Parks and Recreation, where he serves with the Emergency Operations Center. Bob has been working long hours taking on multiple roles. He took the lead to name Recreation Division staff as essential personnel in order to host child care for first responders/medical staff at some of the recreation facilities in the county.”  (May 4, 2020)

Christina Durham Photo Christina Durham
Lecturer and Clinical Faculty/Department of Educational Professions
Christina hosts weekly video conferences with her students to go over expectations, checking in with all to find out how they’re coping. “She goes above just assigning work and grading it by checking our mental health and if we have access to necessary resources,” said one student. “I am present throughout the day so that there is some normalcy for my students to encourage them, to provide words of affirmation that they are on the right track, and to provide feedback so they can be successful,” Durham said, “ (May 4, 2020)

Joel Hoover PhotoJoel Hoover
Production Services Coordinator/Cultural Events Series
Hoover’s partner, Rommel Gonzaga, CEO of Gonzaga Health, brought home a mask and suggested that he utilize his creative talent to design home-made masks and face shields for the staff at Gonzaga’s medical offices, who desperately needed them. Hoover then saw other groups in need and requests came in for the PAWS Food Pantry volunteers at FSU and several smaller local businesses in the area. To date, Joes has sewn over 200 masks and constructed 40 face shields. (May 4, 2020)

Tammy Ringler PhotoTammy Ringler
Administrative Assistant II/Residence Life Office
Ringler is spending many evening and weekend hours with the help of her 8-year old grandson to sew hundreds of masks for local businesses such as Beckman’s Pharmacy, American Woodmark and Mario’s. She’s sent masks to the military serving in Colorado and New Jersey and was preparing masks for the Residence Life Office staff. Ringler is using her baking skills to cheer young children by delivering personalized birthday cakes to help them celebrate while stuck at home, and she dressed up and delivered an Easter cake to a special needs child.  (May 4, 2020)

Gwendolin Schemm PhotoGwendolin Schemm
Senior Communication Studies/Psychology Major
Schemm emailed all of the students in the ORIE class she mentored last fall. “She showed great compassion for these students by expressing how sorry she was that they were dealing with this interruption during their first year of college and reminding them that she was available to talk with anyone who needed someone to listen,” her nomination read. “In times like these, I figured it was just important to let them know there were people and resources out there able to help,” Schemm said. (May 4, 2020)

Danyel Schmidt
Sophomore Health Science Major
Schmidt signed up for training courses to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA). She balances classes during the day, working at the nursing home, and completing her coursework at night while maintaining a full-time load of science courses. “With the current world situation, the local nursing home needs more people to help take care of their residents,” she said. While maintaining a full-time load of science courses.” (May 4, 2020)

FaithTaceyFaith as Bunny photoFaith Tacey
Sophomore Elementary/Middle School Education Major
Tacey grocery shops for neighbors who are ill or elderly and must remain in isolation. She also provides daycare for essential workers. “My favorite thing that I did was dress up as the Easter bunny and visit kids in their own homes, all while practicing social distancing, of course! It was nice to see all the children get excited and smile as a small shred of normalcy brightened up their day!” Tacey also wrote an article in The Bottom Line to help FSU students express their feelings and concerns regarding online courses, to ensure their voices were heard. (May 4, 2020)

Patrick Obrien photoAshley Daniels photoMichael Tartt photoAlison Williams photoFSU PAWS Pantry Team
Patrick O’Brien, Ashley Daniels, Michael Tartt and Allison Williams
O’Brien and Daniels from Student and Community Involvement have worked countless hours to make sure that FSU’s PAWS food pantry stays open, active and safe. Frontline workers at the pantry, Tartt, an AmeriCorps member and FSU alum, and Williams, a junior wildlife and fisheries major, have been hired to help with the pantry during open hours on Mondays and Thursdays by appointment. The team helped manage and distribute 3,000 pounds of the total 6,000 pounds of food they have brought in from the Western Maryland Food Bank and have worked closely with the Food Bank and Health Department to follow guidelines. Since Spring Break, the pantry has adjusted for social distancing and removed limits on the amount of food students receive. They have prepared pre-packed bags to help with distribution to students. The pantry is serving over 100 students, mostly living off-campus, on a regular basis. The team also put together a plan to accommodate any student who may be ill and require food delivery. Chartwells, another pantry partner, donated food for food kits as part of the Million Acts of Good Program, while additional food has been ordered with money from donors to keep things running. (May 4, 2020)

Megan Hartz PhotoArik Hartz PhotoFSU Student Veterans of America
Danielle Dabrowski, director of Veterans Services
Dabrowski started sewing the masks with her FSU-graduate son, Chet, and members of FSU’s chapter of Student Veterans of America (pictured are Student Veterans of America member Megan Hartz and president Arik Hartz) are quickly joined in. So far, they have sewn more than 670 masks, providing them to the FSU campus community, including FSU Police; veterans and their families; nursing homes; assisted living centers; hospice care agencies; and other nonprofit human service agencies, such as Friends Aware and the Charlotte Hall Home for Veterans; and for UPMC-Western Maryland to give to discharged patients. As new needs became apparent, “It has taken on a life of its own,” Dabrowski said. (May 4, 2020)

Shoshana BrassfieldDr. Shoshana Brassfield
Associate Professor of Philosophy/Director, Center for Teaching Excellence
Brassfield has led in supporting faculty in the transition to remote instruction, offering resources through Canvas ranging from general advice to specific strategies for each discipline. During spring break, she created a discussion board focused on the transition. “I especially wanted faculty to know about the many textbook and content providers making resources available for free during the pandemic. I wanted to make sure that faculty have a place where they can find, share advice, and read about some different approaches to the various challenges of remote teaching,” she said. (April 27, 2020)

Dr. Thomas Cadenazzi
Lecturer/College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Cadenazzi received several nominations from students who commend him for his commitment to online teaching. “This professor is doing a great job during this challenging situation to help us continue to learn.” Cadenazzi is “putting forth his best effort in teaching classes,” providing a discussion board where he will answer questions “at an insanely fast rate,” and he “hasn't missed a beat.” He’s produced video lectures and has been very fair in grading while keeping to the original syllabus. One student remarked, “It’s very helpful to have an understanding professor like him.” (April 27, 2020)

Pam Detrick
Director of Dining Services/Chartwells
Detrick, a Caring Bobcat partner with Chartwells, has worked on developing food options for our staff and students. “Pam was very flexible and ready to change operations as the challenges changed [daily] with COVID-19.” She came up with reasonable, equitable, healthy food options for those remaining on campus and arranged for food delivery for students adjusting to a new living situation in Edgewood Commons. Pam always makes sure that food is available for those without. (April 27, 2020)

Emily Harden
Junior Biology Major
Harden balances her coursework at FSU with her job as the emergency unit secretary at UPMC Western Maryland. “She oversees all patients that come in and out of the ER and makes sure that all tests, labs and other exams as well as test results are back in a timely manner. She's the central hub for everything that happens in the department whether it be good, bad, or ugly.” (April 27, 2020)

Madison Hutter
Sophomore Art & Design Major
Hutter is an AmeriCorps student who works with FSU’s PAWS Pantry. She is working to keep things going in support of students who are still living on campus or in Frostburg. Madison is making a difference by supporting basic nutritional needs for students. “She's not self-promoting, just doing her job.” (April 27, 2020)

Missy MartzMissy Martz
Graphic Artist and Social Media Coordinator/Student and Community Involvement Office
Martz has teamed up with her cousin, Susan Geis, to sew over 265 face masks which were donated to healthcare professionals at regional hospitals, nursing homes, the trucking industry, grocery stores and for the immuno-compromised such as asthmatics, cancer patients and Garrett County Hospice. “Missy never stops caring for her FSU and local community.” She said, “It's a small thing we can do during this uncertain time to help keep our community, friends, and family safer.” (April 27, 2020)

Katie McKeeverKatherine “Katie” McKeever
Senior Nursing Major
McKeever is a full-time nurse on the ortho/neuro/trauma floor at Meritus Health System in Hagerstown. In addition to working the night shift and completing her BSN degree through FSU, she volunteers with Blessings in a Backpack, a national organization that sends backpacks filled with food home with school-age children who mainly rely on school meals. She volunteers at local pop-up stands while schools have been closed to distribute lunches and snacks to Frederick-area students depending on Blessings in a Backpack for meals during the COVID-19 crisis. (April 27, 2020)

Lee Ann NightingaleLee Ann Nightingale
Manager, Benefits & Wellness Program/Office of Human Resources
After sewing masks for her husband’s co-workers at Martin’s in Keyser, Nightingale kept going, making and giving away more than 150 reversible, machine-washable for dispatchers, University Police and detectives at C3I. “[Sewing] at night and on the weekends has helped me to remain positive as I focus on doing something to help others during this difficult time,” she said. “I will continue working on this project as long as there is a need. The only thing I have asked when someone tries to give me money is please find a way to pay it forward.” (April 27, 2020)

Rita ThomasRita Thomas
Manager/Instructional Design and Technology
While watching the news, Thomas felt a call to rev up plans for online support just prior to the shut-down. She has been available on weekends and evenings in support of the FSU community transitioning to online instruction, going above and beyond to help faculty and staff. Some of the comments received in support of Thomas’ nomination for Caring Bobcat: “Rita Thomas has been a major force in helping me and others to make the transition from classroom to online teaching” and “Her defining quality…is positivity... for any question, situation, or person she encounters.” (April 27, 2020)