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The UMass Amherst Graduate School has announced that it is honoring UMass alumna and Academic Advisor Emily Krems of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department with the 2024 Distinguished Staff Award. 

Krems received her Master of Education degree in School Counselor Education in 2010 from UMass and worked in K-12 schools as a counselor for 12 years prior to being hired by the ECE department in July 2022.

Recipients of the Distinguished Staff Award are nominated by current graduate students and faculty members. Krems was nominated by ECE PhD candidate Yasra Chandio, who wrote that “Emily’s relentless dedication, empathy, and commitment to excellence in all aspects of her work have profoundly impacted our department and its students.”

In her role as Academic Advisor, Krems works with both graduate and undergraduate students. As she says, “I always try to be approachable, friendly, and welcoming to our students, and to offer opportunities in the department to build community and connection.” Krems works closely with Academic Programs Manager Eliza Frasier, who, as Krems says, “is essential in helping our office run smoothly and supporting students’ needs alongside me.”

According to Chandio, Krems has gone above and beyond the traditional academic advising duties, noting, “Emily’s impact extends beyond her formal role; she acts as a mentor, advocate, and leader. She has been a critical resource for students in crisis, personally advocating for them at higher administrative levels.”

Krems’ contributions include launching a new annual Fall Orientation for graduate students, which includes a significant component for new students to socialize and meet current students, which, as Krems notes, is particularly helpful to the many incoming international students who are in the U.S. for the first time. 

As a result of her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, Krems became the first staff member named to the ECE DEI committee. In this role, she has continued to champion initiatives to enhance the academic and social environment within the department. 

One of these initiatives is ECE’s new Tea Time events, which Krems spearheaded. This spring, each Tea Time had between 30 and 60 faculty, staff, and graduate students in attendance to connect with each other while enjoying music and refreshments. 

She also assists the ECE Gender Diversity graduate student group, which provides graduate women and non-binary students a regular meeting time and off-campus outings to build connections with each other throughout the year. Additionally, Krems is collaborating with students and staff within the College of Engineering and across campus to organize a Women in ECE Dinner Series for the upcoming academic year.

Recipients of the Graduate School’s Distinguished Staff Award receive a $1,000 honorarium and are recognized at a Celebration of Graduate Excellence.

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