Rebecca Gutierrez Keeton, acting vice president of Student Affairs, has received the Cynthia S. Johnson Award from the Student Development in Higher Education (SDHE) program at Cal State Long Beach.
The award recognizes educators who have made a significant impact in the lives of emerging student affairs professionals.
The Johnson Award promotes the belief that success for all students is integral to higher education, a commitment to access, equity, and the quest for social justice, the desire for lifelong learning by extending leadership and development opportunities to students and staff, and an environment that recognizes and rewards excellence.
Thavery Lay-Bounpraseuth, coordinator of the Asian and Pacific Islander Student Center, has seen all these qualities in Keeton, and nominated her along with other alumni of the program.
“I have known Dr. Keeton for the past 16 years and admire her for her dedication and passion for student success, especially her mentorship and being a role model for first-generation college students,” Lay-Bounpraseuth says. “I think of her as a transformative leader and mentor. She truly helps others tap into strengths they did not know they had and helps make them shine.”
Keeton has taught in the SDHE master’s program, and also has hired many alumni of the program to work at Cal Poly Pomona. She says that they are professionals who understand how to take theory and apply it to day-to-day practice.
When she was notified that she had won the award, Keeton didn’t believe it at first.
“I thought that the SDHE program was calling to ask me to present this prestigious award to someone else,” Keeton says. “When the faculty from the program told me that several alumni from their higher education program submitted heartfelt letters nominating me and that I was selected to receive the award, I was stunned.”
“I am so thankful to the alumni that nominated me. Working alongside them every day has been a gift. It has been my pleasure to mentor them over the years because they have unlimited potential.”