Dixon Award Honors Two From WSU

OGDEN, Utah – David C. Trujillo, director of the Upward Bound program, and Brenda M. Kowalewski, professor of sociology, are the 2013 recipients of the Weber State University Alumni Association’s H. Aldous Dixon Award. Both will be formally recognized at a luncheon in their honor March 13.

It’s a good thing Trujillo ignored his high school guidance counselor. When the track star confided his dream of becoming a coach, the woman laughed. “She said I wasn’t college material,” Trujillo recalled. “She suggested I get a job at the Clover Club potato chip factory.”

Weber State College didn’t laugh. Trujillo received a four-year athletic scholarship and graduated in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a teaching certificate. He accepted a coaching post in Roswell, N.M., but returned to Ogden each summer to work as an assistant diversity instructor for Weber State’s Upward Bound program. He was hired full time in 1973 and became Upward Bound director in 1986. 

Upward Bound targets high school students who have the potential to pursue a college education but may lack adequate skills or support. For 40 years, Trujillo has kept low-income kids, whose parents never went to college, from slipping through the cracks. 

Trujillo works with about 75 students a year and takes his job very personally. “I teach family values like honesty, trust, accountability and sacrifice,” he said. He encourages students to participate in community service. “It’s amazing to see these low-income kids giving up their food to help other people,” Trujillo said. Listing service on a college application also builds strong student resumes.  

Trujillo’s secret weapons are his self-deprecating humor and ability to relate to kids whose odds of attending college are stacked against them. “I tell them I was just a fat little Mexican kid who was given a great opportunity and took advantage of it,” he said. He recounts numerous stories of students who conquered crippling obstacles. 

He tells of one teen who had an alcoholic father, an abusive, drug-addicted mother and a severe speech impediment. With Trujillo’s guidance, the boy persevered and eventually received a $43,000 scholarship to Stanford University. “How do you inspire kids to go somewhere beyond average?” asked Trujillo. “Give them dreams, and then opportunities to make those dreams become realities.”

Trujillo will retire in December 2013 to pursue a “bucket list” that includes lots of golf and a trip to the Panama Canal. Humbled by the numerous awards and recognitions he’s received throughout his career, Trujillo said, “I don’t seek out these kinds of things because the greatest reward comes from the satisfaction of seeing someone else achieve success.”

As a graduate student at the University of Maryland, Brenda Marsteller and some of her fellow sociology program cohorts met regularly for happy hour. They’d laugh, catch up and discuss new teaching techniques. One trend fascinated Brenda. The more she heard about service learning and experimented with it, the more dedicated she became to having her students participate in community-based learning projects. “It’s hands-on learning,” said the since-married Marsteller Kowalewski. “And it’s for real people, with real needs and real consequences if we don’t come through.” She said building this approach into her course curricula allows her to “do” sociology as well as teach sociology.

Kowalewski came to Weber State in 1995 and was somewhat surprised by how quickly she grew to love the campus. “Can you believe it?” joked the former student-athlete. “There was no NFL team or anything, and we still landed in Ogden.” But Kowalewski sensed opportunity at WSU. “Weber State has a way of attracting people who are committed to going above and beyond,” she explained. “I could tell in my job interview that this place is student-centered, and that’s where I wanted to be.”

In 2006, Kowalewski became the director of Community-Based and Experiential Learning. Her first task was to create a Community Involvement Center that would match students with service opportunities and show faculty how to convert existing courses into community-engaged learning (CEL) classes. Her enthusiasm for experiential learning is apparently contagious, as the popularity of this teaching approach has spread phenomenally at WSU. “It started out as this grass roots kind of movement,” said Kowalewski. “In five years has grown to 66 faculty teaching 197 formalized CEL classes.”

Kowalewski is a prolific researcher and has won multiple awards and national acclaim for her groundbreaking studies and academic publications. But more than anything, Kowalewski, who because of her own background admits having a soft spot in her heart for first-generation college students, hopes students leave her classes feeling empowered. 

“Students don’t often know that there’s something they can do about social issues,” she said. “It can be depressing to talk about homelessness, teen pregnancy and gang violence. But when you put students in a situation where they can see change, or the potential for change, that they, themselves, are creating, then I’ve done my job.”

The H. Aldous Dixon Award honors outstanding members of WSU’s faculty and staff in memory of President Dixon, who served as the school’s chief administrator from 1919 to 1920, and from 1937 to 1953. Recipients have demonstrated careers of excellence and have gone above and beyond the call of duty to support students.
The 2013 H. Aldous Dixon Award luncheon is March 13, at noon, in the Hurst Center for Lifelong Learning on the Ogden campus. The public is invited. Cost is $12 per person. RSVP online at alumni.weber.edu or call 801-626-7535.

Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.

Nancy Collinwood, executive director, WSU Alumni Relations
801-626-6885 • ncollinwood@weber.edu

Karin Hurst, office of media relations
801-626-7337 • karinhurst@weber.edu
H. Aldous Dixon
Award Winners

1970- Dello G. Dayton
1971- Reed K. Swenson
1972- Robert A. Clarke
1973- Farrell R. Collett
1974- Walter R. Buss
1975- James R. Foulger
1976- Caseel D. Burke
1977- Merlon L. Stevenson
1978- Leland H. Monson
1979- Clair W. Johnson
1980- Orson Whitney Young
1981- Milton C. Mecham
1982- Dean W. Hurst
1983- Jean T. Kunz
1984- Lawrence C. Evans
1984- Jennings G. Olson
1985- Ruth S. Swenson
1986- Eva R. Browning
1987- Jerald T. Storey
1988- Leola L. Davidson
1989- Daniel L. Martino
1990- Robert H. De Boer
1991- Robert B. Smith
1992- LaVon B. Carroll
1993- Reed M. Stringham Jr.
1994- David S. Arslanian
1995- Thomas R. Burton
1996- Craig J. Oberg
1997- C. Dan Litchford, Jr.
1998- Richard C. Roberts
1999- Geraldine L. Hansen
2000- Helen J. James
2001- Kathleen M. Lukken
2002- Candadai Seshachari
2003- Allen F. Simkins
2004- Rosemary Conover
2005- Roydon O. Julander
2006- Margaret Bennett
         Craige Hall

2007- Gary R. Dohrer
         K. Stan Greenhalgh
2008- Marie L. Kotter
         John H. Knight

2009 - Richard W. Sadler
          Don E. Spainhower

2010 - Eugene G. Bozniak
          Ben Read

2011 - Gordon T. Allred
          Joel Bass

2012 - Dawn M. Gatherum
          Lynell L. Gardner

2013 - David C. Trujillo
          Brenda M. Kowalewski