PCEC Faculty, Staff, and Student Honored with Pineapple Awards
May 17, 2021
We are thrilled to announce that six faculty, staff, and students in the Padnos College of Engineering & Computing were selected to receive the GVSU Padnos International Center’s Pineapple Awards, which recognize Grand Valley faculty, staff, community members, and students who advocate for international students and enrich their experience while they are in West Michigan.
Each award recipient’s nominations and personal statements are listed below; please join us in congratulating them on this honor!
Dr. Shabbir Choudhuri, Professor, School of Engineering
- Nomination: "For an international student like myself, who knows very little about the ways here, Dr. Choudhuri has been such a great motivator and mentor. His constant guidance has made this journey memorable and I'm sure I speak for every (international) graduate student when I say he is the perfect program advisor anyone could possibly get."
- Personal Statement: “I am the current Graduate Program Director of the MSE program, and involved with all the international graduate students of the MSE program from their recruitment to their graduation and beyond. My philosophy is simple, “once you choose to attain GVSU, you are one of ours. Your success is our success, your failure is our failure”. Besides academic advising, I make it a mission to help the new international students experience and enrich the new culture and assimilate in their new home. I try to be the sympathetic ear, for all the young men and women away from their homeland, when they need to be listened to.”
Jeevan Reddy Gurrala, Student
- Nomination: “Jeevan deserves this award for the hospitality he has shown towards me. He helped me tons from the initial days of my life in the United States and in GVSU. He helped in finding my stay and made it ease for me to adjust and regulate myself during the lockdown period. As a senior student he helped in studies by clearing doubts in situations when professors aren't available at particular times. He is very friendly in nature and helps every international student. Being far away from home he helped to overcome my home sick fear and helped and encouraged me to grow both professionally and personally. Because of Jeevan I have met a native family who really became very close and they treat me like their daughter. So I think Jeevan perfectly deserves the Pineapple Award.”
- Personal Statement: “God helps me each and every minute in my life and education, I try to help people around me within education, and even personally If I can, my involvement with international students is great, I meet a lot of students from India and other countries here in GVSU.”
Dr. Nabeeh Kandalaft, Professor, School of Engineering
- Nomination: “Being an international engineering student, adjusting to the workload of the course could be a bit challenging. Dr. Kandalaft was one of the professors who made me continue believing in my abilities and not give up on the course as a whole. He was willing to work with me at my pace and he ensured to treat me as any other student, without partiality. This helped since being an international female student in the course could be a bit tough. He saw the potential in me, despite the times I would be struggling; he would encourage me as well as all the students in the class. He is a good professor and wants the best for his students.”
- Personal Statement: “International Students contribute to the diversity and internationalization of their classrooms, campuses, and communities. They add different perceptions in the classroom and improve the common understanding and appreciation of the variances found around the world. Therefore, it is critical to embrace international students and to provide support and extra help specially that language can be a barrier for some of them. As a faculty member, I try to listen to their problems and provide all the help needed for the class and any emotional issues that they might face being away from home.”
Mary Nuznov, Academic Advisor
- Nomination: “Coming to this school as a transfer international student has been a complicated process in the least and having an advisor that is always there for you and going above and beyond for you by reaching out to other people in the faculty for what you need. She's always willing to work with you and is excited to see your progression at and outside of GVSU.”
- Personal Statement: “As an academic advisor, I am typically most involved with International Students when they first come to Grand Valley. However, that isn’t always the case, and many times I have students that I work with until they graduate. Even if it is just a simple class check in, I find working with international students very rewarding. I never got the chance to study abroad, or be an international student during my education, but I do try to imagine what it is like to be in a different country, away from your family, and working hard to navigate college life. I feel like many times students just need an advocate, and I am happy to help.”
Dr. Samhita Rhodes, Professor, School of Engineering
- Nomination: “She is a perfect mentor. I couldn't have gone through my last semester without her encouragement and support. She's a professor every department needs. People like her are the reason students are motivated.”
- Personal Statement: “In 1994 I was an international student at my alma mater and I remember how nerve wracking and generally alien those first few months were. Getting used to being so very far away from the familiar comforts of home, trying to make new friends, and finding your academic footing all at the same time was a disorienting experience. So when I interact with international students in my classes or as advisees at GVSU, I strive to create a stress-free and very positive environment where they can feel comfortable. I want them to know that I am there to help them navigate the academic and the inter-cultural. Because I remember what it felt like when even the most mundane act of ordering a sandwich in the university cafeteria seemed like trying to answer a series of questions in Klingon!”
Dr. Jerry Scripps, Professor, School of Computing
- Nomination: “Professor Jerry Scripps has always motivated and supported me throughout the academic year. He makes students feel comfortable in his classes and makes his lectures interesting. He is kind, helpful and truly cares about his students.”
- Personal Statement: “I have had the good fortune to travel to a few places in Europe. I would love to visit more countries but in lieu of that, it has been wonderful to get to know so many international students. They are so brave to come here to study and have many interesting things to share about their home countries. It is satisfying to learn something new as I struggle to overcome the cultural differences. For instance, in class I was trying to make an analogy using cooking with curry because there are so many Indian students in my class. I found out that curry is not that universally used in India, so my analogy fell a little flat. At least we had a good laugh at my expense.”