Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Roadrunner Shoutout series highlights the excellent and important work happening at all levels of the University. Nominations are always accepted and encouraged.

This month, the series celebrates three inspirational members of the University community who were awarded the honor in person at the latest President’s Cabinet meeting.

Faculty winner 

Nyki Giasolli, Ph.D., lecturer, Biology  

Nominated by student Bonnie Brady, who said: 

“I am a single mother who returned to school after a few decades of working, getting married and raising a son on my own. As we returned to school online during the pandemic, having Dr. G be available for office hours online and to answer my questions patiently and kindly until I really understood the concepts was invaluable.  

“I also had a hard time with my Algebra class last year, and she is absolutely convinced that I will be successful in my class and will graduate with an even higher GPA than I have now. It is her unwavering confidence in me, even when I don’t have it myself, that makes her the special force and the amazing mentor that she is to me and probably many other students.  

“I also love being her teaching assistant, because she is great at explaining our role and giving us the ability to interact with students to show them how to study better and be better prepared for lab. She is innately nurturing and encouraging. We all feel important to her, as if we are her own children, and she is invested in us understanding and being successful at college.” 

Staff winner

Michael Heathcote, Human Subject Protection program manager in the Office of Sponsored Research and Programs 

Nominated by Lisa Badanes, Ph.D., professor and chair of Psychological Sciences, and Maureen Flynn, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychological Sciences: 

“Mike Heathcote is MSU Denver’s Human Subject Protection program manager. He assumed this role five years ago and has played an instrumental role in protecting the welfare, rights and privacy of human subjects at MSU Denver. He is involved in the review process for every protocol submitted to the Institutional Review Board, expertly ensuring federal compliance. He is passionate about helping researchers with their submissions and troubleshooting any issues with them. He was also responsible for the University transitioning to a new submission-management platform this year, Cayuse, which promises to be a much-improved experience for both researchers and reviewers. He is collaborative, respectful, kind, open-minded and a wonderful all-around team player. We wanted to nominate Mike because without him, the IRB research process simply would not run as smoothly and quickly as it does. Mike is a wonderful colleague, and MSU Denver is lucky to have him.” 

Student-employee winner 

Alondra Almanza, front-desk worker in the Office of Human Resources 

Nominated by Stacy Dvergsdal, associate vice president; Alexis Campos, HR partner manager; Zara Shafi, student-employment associate; and Jessica Camomile, front-desk lead, all of Human Resources: 

“Alondra Almanza has been with Human Resources for one year. She supports the front desk to serve our students, faculty and staff. In our time working with Alondra, she always has a smile on her face and is willing to help with all things HR. She is diligent in her work, and we can’t say enough nice things about her. She is passionate about MSU Denver, and she’s known for her positive attitude, is always willing to help others and cares for her team members. Our front desk would be incomplete without her because she is very professional and provides great customer service to our MSU Denver community. She is always going above and beyond to support the HR team.  

“In addition, Alondra is such a joy! She is hardworking, diligent, and exemplifies CADRE values by going above and beyond in everything she does. Alondra has assisted the Student Employment Team in several projects that have helped improve our onboarding process. I appreciate Alondra’s attention to detail.” 

Thank you to this week’s winners for all you do at MSU Denver. To nominate a faculty member or any other member of the University’s employee community for the Roadrunner Shoutout of the Week award, please complete the form. Tell us how your nominee is making an impact through great teaching, service to students or innovation. Winners will be selected each month and profiled in the Early Bird. Winners will also get a shoutout on social media.