Established in 2018, the President's Award for Excellence in Student Advocacy at Trinity University recognizes a faculty or staff member who has been a significant partner in supporting student success both inside and outside the classroom. Eligible recipients include all Trinity University faculty and staff members, and awardees are chosen based on criteria including how they support student success in and/or outside the classroom and how they go beyond the typical responsibilities of their role.
Congratulations to this year’s recipients: Benjamin Sosnaud and Shannon Twumasi.
Benjamin Sosnaud, Sociology and Anthropology
Benjamin Sosnaud, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and has taught at Trinity for four years. His research focuses on the institutional antecedents of social inequality, with a particular focus on inequalities in health outcomes.
Sosnaud was nominated for this award by multiple students, who felt that Sosnaud’s service to his students embodies Trinity’s reputation for close faculty-student relationships, supportive environments, and an emphasis on teaching and mentoring. The nominators recognize Sosnaud as “an exemplary educator who constantly strives to improve his teaching skills, while connecting to students and contributing to the overall campus community.”
A student nominator said, “He promotes a culture of learning by maintaining high expectations for his students while simultaneously providing the resources and support to succeed.
It’s not uncommon to see a line of students waiting outside his office to discuss class topics further, ask for career/graduate school advice, or just talk about school life.”
Sosnaud doesn’t just support students in his department, another nominator said, who recognized the professor for his empathy and his connection with students for many disciplines. “Dr. Sosnaud exemplifies being able to walk the walk when it comes to being compassionate towards students and the issues we discuss in the social sciences. Good professors can teach, but great professors are able to support students emotionally as well, especially in the social sciences when we are discussing many of our own lived experiences, which may be very painful.”
“[Dr. Sosnaud] helps us understand difficult concepts, secure internship opportunities, and actively listens to the stressful circumstances of our young adult lives,” said another student nominator. “He does anything and everything to give tailored personal advice to our goals, personalities, and dreams. He has opened my eyes to the world of academia in an indescribable way and has pushed me to become the greatest possible scholar. I am so fortunate to have a mentor such as him, and quite literally cannot imagine my journey at Trinity without his presence. Anyone who has ever heard about Professor Sosnaud knows without a doubt that not only is he incredibly brilliant and loves his job; he will fight to advocate for our futures and help us better understand our journey as undergraduates trying to figure out who … we are and what it is we want to be.”
Shannon Twumasi, Student Life
Since 2017, Shannon Twumasi has served as the coordinator for student programs in the Student Involvement office. In this role, she serves as the full-time professional staff adviser to the Student Programming Board (a University Sponsored Organization), supports the student organization community, hosts fall and spring Student Involvement Fairs, plays a critical role in the student organization event consultation process, and much more.
Throughout her four years on campus, she has been a strong advocate for marginalized students and has been student-centered in her approaches, initiatives, and relationships. According to her nomination, Twumasi works to ensure that all students are heard, giving them a voice and platform to share their passions and interests. She is equity-minded and challenges the status quo where there are opportunity gaps, and she is able to pivot and adapt easily to the changing environment. “Strong and impactful, and she is a champion of every student’s success. She is determined and dedicated to develop each student and help them be successful,” says one nominator.
Twumasi also works closely with the Student Programming Board, and its members shared how she has impacted them in this role. “As an adviser she does so much more than what the job description requires—she cares and loves each one of us individually and is one of my largest role models,” says one student nominator. “She is a rarity in this world, and Trinity should feel lucky to have her—I know that I do.”
“Shannon is one of the most caring, inspiring, and hardworking people I’ve ever met,” says another student nominator. “She puts 100% into everything she does both in her work...Every moment I get to spend with her I learn so much about what it means to be a good leader and person. I and so many others look up to her.”
“Her influence in our lives has made us all into stronger leaders and better people,” says another student, “and this has translated into our work and success as a programming board.”