Napa Valley College MESA/STEM Student Affairs Specialist René Rubio Receives “Dr. Ed Shenk Excellence in Student Service Award”

Napa Valley College has announced René Rubio as the 2021 recipient of the “Dr. Ed Shenk Excellence in Student Service Award.” The award was launched last year as a way to recognize and honor student service staff members who have contributed to the success of Napa Valley College students through activities that promote student learning, retention and growth.

Rubio is a student affairs specialist for the MESA/STEM Center, where Napa Valley College’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Math, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) programs live. He started working at NVC in 2001 as a part-time EOPS (Extended Opportunity Programs & Services) student specialist before joining the MESA/STEM Center in 2002. MESA, the heart of the MESA/STEM Center, was established in 1999 to serve educationally underrepresented students. The center provides a wide range of services to encourage students to develop the necessary academic and leadership skills to successfully transfer and later graduate from a four-year university with a degree in mathematics, engineering, science or computer science.

“My passion to support student success stems from the wonderful support I received from the EOPS program when I was a student here at Napa Valley College,” said Rubio.

Rubio regularly works with high school students interested in STEM, assisting them with their applications to NVC’s MESA/STEM and STEM summer bridge programs. Since 2010, he has coordinated the Dwight David Eisenhower Transportation Fellowship Grant at Napa Valley College, and since 2015 the Kaiser Permanente Kaiser Medical Scholars Pathway Program.

Rubio works with students to ensure they work with a counselor to create an educational plan and have the resources necessary to succeed and ensure a smooth transfer to a four-year university. He also leads tutoring efforts in the MESA/STEM Center, advises two STEM clubs each year, and has taken students on leadership retreats, to STEM national conferences, to regional leadership conferences and on visits to universities. In 2017, Rubio served as interim associate dean of MESA and STEM programs.

“René truly cares about the success of our MESA/STEM Center students and would never hesitate to assist any student at NVC,” said Luis Alcazar, associate dean of MESA and STEM programs. “He is a team player as a colleague and a superhero to our NVC students.”

“It’s an honor to be nominated and selected for the Dr. Ed Shenk Excellence in Service Award,” said Rubio. “It truly has been a privilege to work with so many students over the years, especially with our MESA/STEM students at NVC the past 20 years. Every year I continue to be amazed by our student’s resilience, their eagerness to learn and to give back to our community.”

The award is named in honor of Dr. Ed Shenk, who spent 30 years at Napa Valley College, first as assistant dean for student services and then retiring in December 2005 as vice president. It was created by Sue Dee Shenk and her parents, Jerry and Peggy Schlosser, who established a $25,000 endowment to fund an annual award. The endowment is held and invested by the Napa Valley College Foundation, to ensure the continued monetary recognition of recipients in the future. Recipients are selected through a nomination process by the Office of Student Affairs.

A longtime supporter of student services, Mrs. Shenk is a former Napa city councilmember and former executive director of Napa Valley Community Housing. She also led the efforts to build a school in Liberia for 100 children, which was dedicated in 2016.

Rubio will be honored in the inaugural virtual ceremony on May 18 and will receive a monetary award of $500.

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