Meet the Excellence Award Winners!

De Anza Employees Honored by League for Innovation

Four members of the De Anza College community will be honored in March with Excellence Awards from the national League for Innovation in the Community College. They were selected for their outstanding service to the college and its students.

  • Diana Argabrite, museum programs coordinator for the Euphrat Museum of Art, has shown a commitment to education and social justice while making the Euphrat an important resource for all.
  • Brandon Gainer, Communications Studies instructor, has a track record of helping to support students and his fellow faculty members, in the classroom and online.
  • Nazy Galoyan, dean of Enrollment Services, is committed to supporting students and making essential campus processes more welcoming and easier to navigate.
  • Patty Guitron, counselor, has been a founding adviser to two Learning Communities, co-coordinator for Guided Pathaways – and a campus leader who helps to get things done.

The recipients will be honored during the League's annual Innovations Conference, held on March 17-20 in Anaheim. 

(Not pictured at his request: Brandon Gainer)

Diana Argabrite

For nearly 35 years, Diana Argabrite has applied her keen eye for art – and her passion for education and social justice – to help make the Euphrat Museum an important resource for the campus and broader community.

Diana ArgabriteAs museum programs coordinator, she has been responsible for curating, producing and securing funds for numerous art exhibitions addressing important cultural and social issues – from immigration and equity to the isolation of the COVID epidemic.

These include annual shows highlighting the work of De Anza students, faculty and staff members, as well as exhibitions of work from artists across the Bay Area and beyond, and shows developed in partnership with the annual Silicon Valley Reads campaign. During the COVID pandemic, Argabrite kept the momentum going with three fully online exhibitions.

Argabrite also coordinates the Euphrat’s after-school art classes for elementary and middle school students, with a focus on students from low-income communities. Argabrite herself grew up in a Sunnyvale neighborhood where some of those students are from, and said she finds it especially rewarding to see them gain exposure to art and opportunities for self-expression.

Through her efforts, the Euphrat is also home to the monthly First Thursday open-mic series, allowing students and community members to perform and express themselves through spoken-word poetry and music. The series is in its 15th year.

Argabrite is a member of the Art on Campus committee and the new Art in Classrooms initiative, and has served on hiring committees for key positions including Child Development Center director and Community Education dean. She has a master’s degree in Art Education from San José State University and a bachelor’s in Studio Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

In her free time, Argabrite said she enjoys creating her own art, including mixed media and installations, and spending time with friends. She also likes to read, cook, nurture plants and travel – including a recent trip to explore and view art in Mexico City.

Brandon Gainer

Brandon Gainer has a track record of helping to support students and fellow faculty members, in the classroom and online. As a Communications Studies instructor, he led the effort to establish one of the first fully online public speaking courses in California community colleges, which has proven popular with a wide range of students.

As department scheduler, he helped develop course schedules that met student needs and fueled a significant increase in the number of Communication Studies certificates and degrees awarded to students – from 65 in 2014-15 to more than 100 in recent years.

Gainer was faculty coordinator for De Anza’s Online Education Center from 2016-2022, mentoring others in developing online courses and teaching strategies that are effective and engaging. In that role, he was an invaluable resource when the college needed to move virtually all classes online as a result of the COVID pandemic, just before the end of winter quarter in 2020.

As a teacher, Gainer is known for his active and engaging approach. Colleagues say he takes pains to make students feel comfortable and overcome anxieties about public speaking, as they develop communication skills.

Gainer has also been active in the Foothill-De Anza Faculty Association and served on the college Curriculum and Technology committees, as well as the district Educational Technology Advisory Committee (ETAC).

He began teaching part-time at De Anza in 2008 and also taught communication courses at Mission College and San José State University, before joining the full-time faculty at De Anza in 2013.

Gainer holds a master of arts degree in Communication Studies from San José State and a master of science degree in Instructional Science and Technology from California State University, Monterey Bay. Gainer earned his bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

In his free time, Gainer said, he enjoys reading, exercising, cooking and “finding new coffee shops.”

Nazy Galoyan

People who have worked with Nazy Galoyan know that she is passionate about supporting students and making essential campus processes more welcoming and easier to navigate.

Nazy GaloyanPerhaps not as many people know that Galoyan is an avid collector of antique dolls, which she displays alongside brightly colored artwork in her small office at the Registration and Student Services Building.

As dean of Enrollment Services, Galoyan oversees Admissions and Records, Assessment and the Cashier’s Office, as well as Outreach and Relations With Schools, International Student Programs and Veteran Services. She’s held that position since 2018, when she moved from a similar post at Foothill College.

Galoyan began working at Foothill as a student employee, before she became an admissions assistant, evaluation specialist and then interim registrar. She was dean of Enrollment Services at Foothill from 2013-2018.

At De Anza, she has worked to streamline and simplify processes for students, and to improve communication about registration, high school dual enrollment, academic probation, graduation and other important functions. She helped facilitate temporary rules for Pass/No Pass grading and excused withdrawals for students who were struggling during the COVID pandemic, and reached out with support for them to resume their studies.

In recent years, she’s also pushed to improve services for veterans, undocumented students, international students and those learning English as a second language, among others. Currently, she is overseeing a reorganization of the campus Food Pantry and Resource Hub to support students who are struggling with basic needs.

Galoyan serves on De Anza’s Technology Committee and, at the district level, the Educational Technology Advisory Committee (ETAC), Banner Student Committee and EIS Core Committee. She has an associate degree in Business Administration and Accounting from Foothill, a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from San Francisco State University and a master’s in Counseling from San José State University.

In addition to collecting dolls, Galoyan enjoys travel and ballet.

Patty Guitron

Patty Guitron has worn several hats in her time at De Anza – as a founding adviser for two Learning Communities, member of the General Counseling faculty, and co-coordinator for Guided Pathways.

Patty GuitronAs vice president of the Academic Senate, co-chair of College Council and member of committees for Curriculum, General Education and Strategic Planning Implementation, she has earned a reputation as a campus leader who helps get things done.

Guitron became a De Anza counselor in 2000 and teamed with English instructor Jean Miller to launch the first Puente student cohort in 2001. Guitron and Miller also launched the First Year Experience cohort and Summer Bridge program in 2006. Guitron later served as director of Student Success and Retention Services for several years. After moving to the General Counseling Center in 2015, Guitron was counseling chair from 2017-2021.

Working with others on the Guided Pathways initiative, Guitron helped with creating the college’s six Villages and Village Centers, along with related Canvas sites, and developing the program and transfer maps that provide detailed course recommendations for students in more than 200 majors.

During her time as Guided Pathways co-coordinator, the group also launched the new Rising Scholars program – supporting students who have been affected by the justice system – and other initiatives to clear obstacles that prevent students from reaching their goals.

Guitron has been a tri-chair of the De Anza Latinx Association, helping coordinate the annual Latinx Graduation celebration, and served on the Educational Justice for Undocumented Students (EJUS) committee. She has a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and a master’s in Counseling, both from San Francisco State University.

In her free time, Guitron said she enjoys “hanging out with my family (and my dog Ceelo).” She added that “one of the craziest things I’ve ever done” was to sign up for an AIDS charity marathon in Hawaii – and is proud to have completed the 26.2-mile run while raising money for a good cause.

(Posted on March 6, 2024)

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