SOCORRO, N.M., August 19, 1999 -- Students in New Mexico Tech's Technical Communication (TC) program are hoping for another successful term following an award-winning 1998-1999 academic year.
Last year was a trail-blazing year for the TC program and its student chapter of the Society for Technical Communication (STC), an international professional organization. The student chapter earned the following awards:
- Chapter Achievement Award
- Merit Award for Technikos, Tech's STC newsletter
- Distinguished Service Award for former STC chapter president Rebecca Ideus
The awards are noteworthy in themselves, but have additional meaning to the students and faculty associated with Tech's TC program.
"From my standpoint as chapter advisor, the most noteworthy thing about the Chapter Achievement Award was that it was entirely a student initiative," said Dr. Charles P. Campbell, Tech's STC student chapter advisor.
"It was last year's officers who saw the possibility of earning it and made the application. Of course, they could have applied and not won anything, but they had also taken some previous initiatives to revive the newsletter, raise funds, get people to conferences, and recruit members. That really is a notable achievement for a student chapter," Campbell added.
The Chapter Achievement Award was presented at the international STC conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, last May. The award was accepted on behalf of the chapter by Dr. Jonathan Price, former advisor, who earlier had received a Distinguished Chapter Service Award.
The newsletter Merit Award also was posted at the conference, said TC senior Rick Young, the former Technikos editor who represented Tech's STC chapter at the conference.Young said official notification and an accompanying plaque arrived in June. The plaques for both the Merit Award and Chapter Achievement Award are on display in the TC Lab in Cramer Hall. Technikos won its Merit Award in the "Publications, Newsletter/Student" category for STC chapters worldwide. A single entry was comprised of two consecutive issues; Tech's entries were for November and December, 1998.
The award noted the chapter's "dedication to publishing a high-quality newsletter."
Young served as Technikos editor from August to December, 1998. "It definitely was a great experience," he said. "But if I'd known what (being editor) would entail, I never would have volunteered while taking a full course load."
Young said he designed each of the four newsletters he edited according to a theme. "The first one was, 'what is TC?' The second one focused on software related to the field of technical communication," he said.
He also had the guiding hand of Ideus to help him. Ideus, who graduated from Tech's TC program in May and now works for Compaq in Houston, Texas, is credited with saving a student chapter on the brink of extinction.
"When I began my stint as chapter president, our chapter only had a handful of active members, and absolutely no direction or ambition," said Ideus. "Before my second year as president began, the chapter's council (all of the officers) decided to use the Chapter Achievement Award checklist as a planning tool. By using that checklist, we were able to determine what the 'good' chapters in the society do, and model our own activities in accordance. I don't think we ever really expected that we'd win that award in the first year!"
Ideus said the award should make every member of Tech's STC chapter very proud. "In such a small school, so far away from other chapters, it's important that we've finally made a name for our chapter in the society," she said. "Other schools with TC programs know who we are now, and the professionals in our field recognize the name New Mexico Tech.
"The same goes for our award in the newsletter competition. Rick and I put a lot of blood and sweat into getting the newsletter back off the ground, and to have such a positive response so quickly says a lot about the quality of the work that so many people put into it.
"In short, these chapter awards have presented our chapter and its members in a very positive light," said Ideus. "The STC is probably the largest and most active professional society in our field. Now our students can say that they've been part of an award-winning chapter--and that truly does look good on their resume."
Ideus said she takes a measure of personal pride in the awards. "But more importantly, I wanted everyone else to be proud of those awards. I wanted to give the students something to look forward to and something to top next year, and the year after, and the year after. I saw these awards as a way of instilling a sense of ambition in our chapter.
"If we've done it one year, we can do it the next," she said. "There is so much talent in our chapter, and I wanted to show it off some. And I firmly believe that the more active our chapter becomes, the better our TC program will look, and the more talent we'll attract." That, she said, was her primary goal. "Well, that, and I wanted to win!"