Celebrating Living the Mission Awards recipients for 2023
The Office of Mission Integration for the second year celebrated Salve Regina’s Living the Mission Awards at the University’s fall 2023-24 academic convocation on Sept. 5. These awards are a celebration of Salve’s faculty, staff, students and community partners who have carried out the mercy mission through their dedicated service and leadership.
The Living the Mission Awards recognize individuals who advance the University’s mission in extraordinary ways through their actions, seeking wisdom and promoting universal justice.
The five individuals below have linked Salve Regina’s community to the mercy mission in tremendous ways. Salve Regina is so grateful for how these five recipients are “shining lamps giving light to all around you,” in the words of Catherine McAuley.
Dr. Paula Martasian, associate professor and chair of the Department of Psychology
“Dr. Martasian is the embodiment of compassionate mercy leadership,” Dr. Cody Morris, assistant professor of psychology and graduate program director, reflected in his nomination. “She leads her department with humility, integrity, fairness, grace and courage, which sets an example for all of the young faculty in that department.”
Dr. Martasian gives so much of herself to Salve’s community, students, faculty and staff, and she makes time for the care for the earth, as well as offering meditations and engaging in service regularly in her church and the wider community. Dr. Martasian is living the mission of Salve by working for a world that is harmonious, just and merciful.
Undergraduate Student Recipient
Isabelle Cole ’24, a major in social work with a minor in global studies
“Taking on mercy through action and protest, Belle has given voice to survivors on campus who have suffered sexual assault,” shared fellow undergraduate student, Matthew Elderkin ’24, in his nomination. Elderkin noted that Isabelle Cole inspires and empowers people to unite and share their stories.
“She is a true purveyor of the mercy mission,” he said.
This year, Cole was also elected as president of Salve’s National Mercy Honors Society, Sigma Phi Sigma.
Community Partner Recipient
Mrs. Victoria Johnson, founder of the Newport Middle Passage Port Marker Project and retired principal from Rogers High School
As an institution committed to supporting the community, the university has the pleasure of working with so many extraordinary Aquidneck Island partners. Mrs. Victoria Johnson has worn many hats in the Newport community, especially as retired principal of Rogers High School.
Mary Beth Pelletier, program manager in mission integration, nominated Mrs. Johnson for her commitment as a community member to celebrating the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a planning committee member for Salve’s annual MLK Week celebration. Pelletier reflected in her nomination that Mrs. Johnson’s leadership in Newport and the NAACP’s MLK Day celebration is thoughtful, enlightening and humbling.
“You can also see Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s legacy in Mrs. Johnson’s work,” said Pelletier. “She exhibits courage and mercy in her work and is a valued member of our extended Salve family.”
Graduate or Professional Student Recipient
Evan Switzer, graduate student in behavior analysis
Evan Switzer recently completed his first year in Salve’s behavior analysis (ABA) graduate program. A father of three, Switzer became interested in changing his career and pursuing further studies in ABA as he learned to support one of his children with a diagnosis of autism.
Dr. Cody Morris, graduate program director of ABA, shared in his nomination that Switzer understood fully the importance of the practicum and clinical experience and his willingness to shift his career trajectory to dive in fully was remarkable.
“Evan is clearly committed to becoming a good behavior analyst so that he can help children and families in need and is doing whatever it takes to fulfill his mission,” said Dr. Morris.
Anne McDermott, director of the Office of Financial Aid
As the director of financial aid, Anne McDermott has the incredible task of helping to connect students and their families with financial support to realize their dreams for a college education. Dr. Elizabeth Fitzgibbon, associate dean of undergraduate studies and associate professor in mathematical sciences, recognized McDermott for her mercy leadership.
“Anne has led the financial aid office in making significant reforms which have addressed matters of diversity, equity and inclusion — as well as the dignity of all persons,” said Dr. Fitzgibbon. “Anne is consistently putting student needs at the center of the conversation.”
Dr. Fitzgibbon shared in her nomination that McDermott has also lead the way in making significant changes to how Salve addresses students with demonstrated need by helping the process become smoother.