Two Faculty Members Honored with 2022 Distinguished Community Engagement Awards

The Provost’s Office has selected two faculty winners for the 2022 Distinguished Community Engagement Awards.

Kalpana Poudel-Tandukar, associate professor in the Elaine Marieb College of Nursing, and Erika Zekos, senior lecturer and undergraduate program director in the Department of Agriculture, were honored in the research and teaching categories, respectively. The award comes with a $1,000 monetary prize.

NEWS Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, Kalpana Poudel-Tandukar and Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs John McCarthy
Left to right: Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy, Kalpana Poudel-Tandukar and Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs John McCarthy 

Poudel-Tandukar was selected for her “outstanding community-engaged, applied and translational research” to develop and test culturally tailored interventions to reduce mental health disparities among vulnerable populations. Collaborating with the Bhutanese Christian Society of Western Massachusetts, she has worked with Bhutanese refugees who have resettled in Western Massachusetts, a group that bears a high burden of mental health problems.

Based on the program she developed for Bhutanese refugees, her latest publication describes a study protocol for a peer-led, family-centered, low-cost intervention aimed at reducing stress and promoting mental health among immigrant groups across the U.S.

NEWS Erika Zekos
Erika Zekos

Zekos was selected for a teaching award for her undergraduate design studios that focus on using community-engaged design to help break down socioeconomic barriers in the architectural profession and prepare students to become engaged citizens, practitioners and leaders. The review committee pointed to engagement projects she has led with the Amherst Survival Center.

This spring, Zekos and her students worked with youth scholars at Amherst A Better Chance (ABC) to design and build a play structure on the organization’s property. ABC is a national residential high school program that prepares for college and leadership roles talented and motivated African-American, Latino, Asian and Native American students from educationally underserved school districts.

 Distinguished Community Engagement Awards have been made annually by the Provost’s Office for more than two decades. According to the call for nominations, “This award recognizes individuals within our campus community for their outstanding contributions to community-engaged scholarship and teaching, and campus/community partnerships, with impacts at the local, regional, national or international level.”