2021 SBS Advisory Board Award Honorees

About this year's honorees:

Dolly first began her service to students through Sacred Sounds, a meditation and yoga club. With this club, Dolly organized free events for students that provided yoga, meditation, music, and even food. She always strove to make these events inclusive, accessible, and welcoming to the entire student body regardless of their beliefs, physical condition or previous exposure to these activities. In the last part of 2020, Dolly was able to open a yoga/meditation center in Mankato to serve the larger Mankato community. Opening such a venture in a safe manner during Covid was no small feat, but as with most endeavors that Dolly takes on, it did not deter her. Without a budget she secured donations to create the Sacred Sounds House and bring a place of comfort to Minnesota State Mankato students and Mankato residents.

Dolly is a true student leader to the international student population as well, particularly in the past year. As an international student herself, she knew of the unique challenges facing international students during Covid. Despite her own challenges with housing insecurity, food insecurity, and concerns over healthcare during Covid, she turned her attention to helping other students manage these problems. Dolly volunteered many hours at Campus Cupboard and worked tirelessly dong outreach to secure donations and let students know that they could find food there. When some students became infected with Covid, she organized food delivery to students’ homes so they could eat, and public safety could be protected.

Perhaps most impressive, Dolly founded Remember Me Too, and organization dedicated to advocating for International Students at Minnesota State Mankato. Her work with Remember Me Too has been vast. She organized a team of students, recruited professors to assist, developed a program to get bicycles to students, continued efforts to arrange for food donation and distribution, consulted with other international student groups nationally, garnered media attention, met regularly with University administration, coordinated emergency housing for students with the University, and independently secured $42,6000 in grants to help 81 international students with their housing costs.

Beyond her accomplishments, she is noted for the ease with which she worked with students and other community members to achieve her goals, and the selfless dedication she has toward service.

Jaimee is a native of the Mankato area. After graduation from Minnesota State Mankato, they went on to receive a Master of Education from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Jaimee also received a license to teach 5-12 English Language Arts. Jaimee went on to work at the Northside Achievement Zone, an organization that works to permanently close the achievement gap and end generational poverty in North Minneapolis. Together with partner organizations, NAZ walks side by side with low-income families as they put their children on a path to college. At NAZ, Jaimee was the education director, responsible for oversight, strategy, and implementation of all Northside Achievement Zone Solutions in the kindergarten through college pipeline for all educational programming both in and out of school.

After a stint as the director of Talent Acquisition for the Minneapolis Public Schools, Jaimee began working as a teacher trainer for the Innocent Classroom. This organization’s focus is on rebuilding relationships between teachers and students, particularly students of color. Jaimee believes that every teacher can connect with every student through practical strategies that channel relationships into learning and growth. Jaimee prepares teachers to see through virulent negative stereotypes and through behaviors to see each student's motivation, their "good,” and respond to that. Jaimee says, “Bridging this gap is the only way we see that all children can have real progress in public education.”

In Jaimee’s experience, Gender & Women’s Studies laid the foundation for Jaimee to be able to listen for, identify, and advocate for individual and system-level change. While the program focused on the gendered experiences particularly of women, the conversation, reading, learning, and activism always challenged students to look at the intersectionality of race, class, sexuality, ability, etc., of the experiences of all humans. As a GWS student, Jaimee felt they were consistently held to high standards and expected to push themsevles individually to and through the dissonance of their own experience of and/or contributions to oppression. Jaimee states, “These intellectual and emotional practices both in and out of the classroom helped me build a skill set that I have used consistently to build a career in education with the primary focus of interrupting/deconstructing systemic injustices and racism evident in public education.”

Dr. Schirmer has been a member of the faculty in Anthropology since 2003-04. He is now a Full Professor, Director of the Archeology Division of the Museum of Anthropology on our campus, and he serves as Co-Director of the EARTH Systems (formerly AGES) Research Laboratory. Since 2003-2004, Dr. Schirmer has taught thousands of students about archeology, archeological methodologies, and anthropology in 23 different and unique courses. In addition, he has advised 17 graduate students to completion of the master’s degree and mentored dozens of undergraduate students. These numbers alone exemplify the significant impact he has made in the lives our students, but there is far more that exemplifies the exceptionalism that is Dr. Schirmer.

In addition to his teaching and mentorship of students, since 2016 as director of the Museum of Anthropology, Dr. Schirmer served to secure and protect archeological collections from greater than 260 different sites in order to preserve Native American cultural heritage in the state of Minnesota. Often, this involved training students in archival procedures and the like. Minnesota State Mankato is now a repository for Native American artifacts, largely because of Dr. Schirmer’s dedication to establishing connections to underserved Native communities across the state. The relationships he has established with, for example, the Prairie Island Indian Community, is truly special. He has earned the trust and admiration of the Prairie Island Community, not only as a scholar, but also a friend of their community. The trust is so great that he is allowed to work at sites of their ancestors, where no one else is allowed, to aid them in understanding and preserving their heritage.  This same hard-earned trust also allows for Minnesota State students to directly engage in archeological research and educational opportunities with native peoples that no other program in the region can offer.  It is truly a unique and remarkable experience for our students to take part in this work and this program under Dr. Schirmer’s tutelage. Dr. Schirmer has also been a tireless workhorse of service in our college and for the university to benefit our students through championing improvement of the curriculum we collectively offer. He has served for 15 years on the SBS curriculum committee, with 5 years of servie as committee chair. 

As so-director of the EARTH Systems Laboratory, Dr. Schirmer helped found the lab and along with the other co-directors, collaboratively brought in over $1.5 million to help fund student research and training, along with tuition and stipends for graduate students. Through much of his research, students are directly involved under his guidance. This serves to provide them with experiences and training that put them at a competitive advantage over most others when they enter the workforce or further pursue advanced degrees. This includes funding many of the 17 graduate students he supervised to completion of their master’s degrees and countless undergraduate advisees he has mentored. Dr. Schirmer is truly an interdisciplinary scholar who cares about students regardless of their major path.

Dr. Schirmer’s research not only benefits students, but also serves to aid Native American communities in the state by preserving sites of cultural importance and history. His work has gone great lengths to repair a legacy of enforced separation between descendant people and the sites of their ancestors. His efforts led to him bringing the Midwest Archeological Conference to Mankato in 2019, supported by several Native American communities. More than 100 faculty and practitioners, and dozens of students from across the Midwest led sessions and presented their research at the conference. In addition to all of this, Dr. Schirmer has tirelessly pushed to disseminate work to the broader populace in order to educate and inform about the Native heritage of the landscapes we now reside in. He has published or created dozens of research reports, conference presentations, publications, and museum exhibits, and interpretive signage for this reason. Many of these were co-authored with our students.

In regards to research and pursuit of this integrated teaching scholar philosophy, Dr. Schirmer shows no signs of letting up. He continues to exemplify, as he has done for the past 16 years, the “Teaching Scholar” philosophy by integrating his research, teaching, service, and curricular pursuits in order to provide students with the most impactful and engaging experience he can. He is currently working on a $1.3 million NSF proposal and a $560k NSF proposal to fund major geoarcheological investigations along major rivers in the upper Midwest. Much of this funding, primarily through his advocacy, is going to be reserved for paying and supporting students in our graduate and undergraduate programs. He already has plans to integrate courses, master’s thesis, and his field school in these projects in order to make these “student-focused” research objectives.

Do you know other outstanding student leaders, alumni or professors? Nominate them for a 2022 SBS Advisory Board Award.