Lea Jarnagin, vice president for student affairs at Cal Poly Pomona, has been honored for dedicating her career to supporting students and staff in their personal and professional development.
The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) gave Jarnagin the 2018 NASPA Region VI Sandra Kuchler Excellence in Mentoring Award. She was recognized at the 2018 NASPA Western Regional Conference in Sacramento.
Jarnagin is committed to meeting students’ needs, especially through programs like the Bronco Dreamers Resource Center, which serves undocumented students, and the new Integrated Care Network, which supports students in their health and well-being.
“I experienced a unique professional view of her servant leadership, student-centered approach, and commitment to self-care,” said Tim Alexander, former coordinator of CPP’s Project SUCCESS, which provides resources for incoming male students of color. “Dr. J taught me how to treat others with the utmost respect, the value of assessment and evaluation, and the importance of authenticity.”
Jarnagin, nicknamed “Dr. J” by students during her tenure at Cal State Fullerton, earned her bachelor’s degree at Cal State San Marcos (CSUSM) in the first graduating class of 1992. She worked in student affairs for 6 years at CSUSM and for 18 years at CSUF before coming to Cal Poly Pomona in 2016.
“What is so powerful about Cal Poly Pomona,” said Jarnagin, “is you look around this campus, and there is an acknowledgment that every student who comes here brings with them something that is additive to this community, and we get the opportunities to help them identify what it is and then build upon it.”
Sandra Kuchler, the award’s namesake and Jarnagin’s former director supervisor at Cal State San Marcos, inspired her to pursue a career in student affairs.
“It means so much to me to have something with her name on it,” Jarnagin said. “She helped me understand that student affairs is about helping young people realize who they are, who they want to be in the world, how they come to know themselves and what they have to offer others.”
Jarnagin said the award isn’t about her efforts but about the students and staff she serves.
“It’s not about another thing to put on a shelf or hang on the wall. It’s a moment to reflect that the reason you get into student affairs in the first place is that you want to affect the lives of other and it’s a moment of validation that you have done that.”