July 02, 2021

Two Hampden-Sydney College staff members—Maryśka Connolly-Brown and Zita Barree—were recently honored with prestigious awards.

Maryska Connolly-Brown headshotThe Virginia Library Association (VLA) announced this week that Hampden-Sydney’s Technical Services Librarian, Maryśka Connolly-Brown, is the recipient of the 2021 Academic Innovator Award. This award recognizes academic librarians “who have made an outstanding contribution to advance the mission of an academic library in Virginia through an innovative project, program, or service,” according to the VLA.

In announcing the award, the organization saluted Connolly-Brown’s “creative approach to library programming and services as well as her dedication to serving students as a librarian and academic advisor.”

Connolly-Brown joined the Bortz Library team in 2015 as technical services librarian and has since become the first librarian to serve as an academic advisor and to teach a for-credit course, in addition to completing training to teach as part of the College’s Compass program. She keeps students on their toes, leading library programming that includes murder mystery nights, the on-campus escape room, and roleplaying games.

Receiving the award comes as a surprise to Connolly-Brown. “Supporting our students academically and making them feel at home in the library and on campus is at the core of my personal mission as an academic librarian,” she says. “I’m so very honored.”

Connolly-Brown and other award recipients will be honored in October at a celebration in Richmond in conjunction with the VLA Annual Conference.

Zita Barree headshotIn addition, the Southern Association of Financial Aid Administrators (SASFAA) announced this week that Hampden Sydney’s Director of Financial Aid, Zita Barree, is the recipient of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) 2021 Regional Leadership Award. This award recognizes individuals “who have made outstanding contributions to the financial aid profession at the regional and state levels over a sustained period of time,” according to the SASFAA.

The organization’s announcement highlighted Barree’s display of “high integrity and character, creative leadership, and her inspiration and encouragement to others to actively participate in professional development.”

Like her Bortz Library colleague, Barree is honored by this recognition. “Working in financial aid has never been just a job to me, but instead a true calling to serve by helping individuals make college a reality,” she says. “My hope is that I have also inspired some of my newer colleagues over the years to make financial aid their profession and calling as well.”

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