The Association for Continuing Higher Education (ACHE) recognized two honorees from Southeastern Oklahoma State University at its annual conference in Charleston, S.C., in late October.
Michelle Burton, Coordinator of Academic Services for Southeastern on the Grayson College campus in Denison, is a winner of the 2023 ACHE Rising Star Award, while Jeni Maple, Coordinator of the Bachelor of Science in Liberal & Applied Studies program at Southeastern, earned the Meritorious Service Award.
ACHE’s Rising Star award is open to those who have either developed (or contributed to the development of) or extended an outstanding program or division within a continuing unit or conducted research or published on a topic that has led to the enhancement or advancement of the field of adult continuing education.
Burton joined Southeastern in her current position in 2021. Earlier in 2023, she was recognized as the Outstanding Outreach Site Employee at Southeastern. Prior to coming to Southeastern, Michelle was a high school counselor for 30 years. She took her passion for serving teens to serving adults of all ages from all walks of life.
In a nomination letter, Burton was noted as having “…an infectious positivity and enthusiasm that has brought renewed energy to our team. She has quickly become a leader among the professional advisors, both off-campus and on-campus. She is eager to learn, ask questions, and conduct research that benefits our entire division, and she is a creative problem-solver – she has already suggested numerous changes to advising and other processes that have increased efficiency and student service. These talents are recognized beyond our division and across our university; other departments like the Registrar’s Office regularly seek her advice and input as a representative of the advising unit even though she is one of the newest to join the advising team.”
Another nomination said “…often students on off-site locations feel disconnected and Michelle bridges this gap by providing quality student service. She is a model employee who reflects the mission of our institution. I can count on Michelle for assistance when needed. I have relied on her many times when challenges arise. Her ability to work with others and provide a leadership role is remarkable. She is incredible at building partnerships and is always willing to accept any challenge. She is also compassionate, capable, and dedicated.”
Burton received her bachelor’s from the University of North Texas and her master’s from Texas A&M University-Commerce. Having been a “non-traditional” college student herself, Michelle especially loves working with students who are returning to or starting college after several years, and she understands the unique circumstances and obstacles they experience.
The ACHE Meritorious Service Award recognizes individuals for their outstanding leadership, performance, and service to continuing higher education at their own institution and within the Association for a minimum of 5 years.
Maple is the Coordinator of the Bachelor of Science in Liberal & Applied Studies program at Southeastern. She has more than 13 years serving students in higher education and has previously held numerous positions including the Director of the Online and Distance Advising Center and the Academic Coordinator of one of SE’s outreach locations. She was the 2021 recipient of the Outstanding Service to Students Award at Southeastern.
She has been a member of ACHE since 2014 and has served as secretary and chair of the Great Plains Region. She has also served on the ACHE conference planning committee nearly every year since becoming a member, including serving as the annual conference co-chair in 2018, 2020, and 2021. Jeni earned her bachelor’s degree in English and Journalism at Southeastern and M.A. in English at Oklahoma State University.