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2015 Faculty mentor award winners

J. Connor Sutton, Antonio Serna and James E. Hetrick were the 2015 recipients of the Faculty Mentor Awards, presented at the annual awards ceremony on Sunday, Nov. 15.

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Pacific News

Pacific Alumni Association honors professors who mentor

The Pacific Alumni Association recognized three current and emeriti professors for their lifelong mentoring of students and alumni at the annual Faculty Mentor Awards Luncheon on Nov. 15.
Nov 16, 2015

James E. HetrickJames Hetrick

College of the Pacific

James Hetrick joined Pacific in 1997 and is professor and chair of the physics department. Being a teacher allows him to relive the discovery of physics and other subjects through his students. As his students develop, he takes pride in knowing that he played some part in making them who they are. He is also active in outreach programs that get children and youth excited about science and provides instruction to teachers in the teaching of science.

"I can't say no when someone asks me to help out with a student project or to come visit a 4th grade class," he said. "You never know when explaining how a cool science demo works, or taking the telescope to a school will open up a new interest and direction in someone's life. I know, because I had several mentors who took time to explain or show something to me and altered the course of my life."

"The thing that makes Jim Hetrick stand out is his skill at providing me just the right balance of challenge and support. He was always there to help, but never made it too easy. He gave me a real vision of who I wanted to be professionally and helped give me the skills I needed to get there," said former student Brian Thomas '99 COP.

"Mentoring is a lot about planting seeds, then nurturing them to grow, and watching what blossoms."   — James E. Hetrick, Physics

Antonio SernaAntonio Serna '90 EDU

Educational Administration and Leadership
Gladys L. Benerd School of Education

Antonio Serna joined the faculty of the School of Education in 2006 after 23 years as school principal. The son of San Joaquin Vally farm workers, Serna did not speak English when he started school and is thankful for great teachers who made learning fun. One teacher even encouraged him to run for student body president, and to his surprise, he won. Today he mentors students who have a passion for leading public schools. He enjoys teaching and interacting with students individually and in small groups.

"As a professor," he said, "I mentor aspiring and new school administrators as they begin their journey into the challenging field of school administration. I visit students out in the field to offer support, guidance and encouragement. As students become alumni, they invite me to speak to their school parent groups... and I invite former students as guest lecturers in my classes."

"He's sympathetic to students and enables them to be critical thinkers, as well as assist in the development of real problem solving strategies," said former student Adriana Cruces '05 EDU. "His motto is 'Always listen and be honest, everyone appreciates genuine honesty,' and Dr. Serna models this."

"I get great joy in learning about the accomplishments of our students when they become principals, superintendents, or enter the higher education profession. As a university, we need to continue to make personal connections with our alumni and celebrate their career accomplishments."

J. Connor SuttonJ. Connor Sutton '61 COP, '63 EDU, emeritus

Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences
College of the Pacific

J. Connor Sutton spent his entire career at Pacific, totaling 30 years as a teacher and coach. After graduating in 1961, he returned to Pacific as assistant water polo coach, eventually becoming head water polo and swim coach and aquatics instructor. Deciding that he liked the classroom best, however, he left to complete his PhD and then joined the sport sciences faculty, where he taught, coached and began to develop the Human Performance Lab.

"Connor led by example. He is a man of action" said former student Franz Vaiarello '74 COP. "Through his knowledge and hands on approach, my understanding of the human body, its capabilities and what it takes to maintain it over time went through the roof. To this day I utilize that understanding as I cycle thousands of miles annually. Most importantly however, Dr. Sutton imparted an open minded, fact-driven approach to discovery and solutions."

Sutton retired in 1999, and now lives in Oregon. He says he misses the daily interaction with students and colleagues and watching students progress as they move on from college to reach their professional goals. "Seeing my students go on to success, and knowing that I contributed to that at least in some small way is rewarding," he said.

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