Laura Kinard, student services coordinator for the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), was recently honored with the first Distinguished Graduate Student Support Staff Award. The award was presented at the May 2021 doctoral hooding ceremony.
MSE Department Chair Kyle Brinkman says, “while she is extremely capable of the administrative duties of her job, what makes Laura stand out is her commitment and connection to the department’s graduate students and their well-being.”
Brinkman points out that “the position of student services coordinator is one of the toughest on campus, often at the front lines of problems which need immediate attention.” More than one of her nomination letters from a faculty member described an incident where a graduate student was at a painfully low point, feeling helpless when Kinard became involved and got the students various kinds of support that allowed them to turn things around. Of the students who wrote letters of support, one said, “seeking her help was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and as a result, I am happier and have academically flourished more than I ever thought possible.”
“We have many outstanding graduate student support staff members in departments across campus,” said Associate Provost and Dean of the Graduate School John Lopes, “and Laura is one of the best examples of the dedication, care and concern they show for graduate students every day. Clemson is lucky to have her.”
Kinard will receive a $1,000 award, and the MSE department will receive a $500 grant to support graduate student services.