This spring, Neelam Canto-Lugo, an adjunct professor of communications at Yuba College in Marysville, and member of the Yuba College Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 4952, was awarded the gold-level President’s Volunteer Service Award for her work in poorer communities of Bangladesh, Nigeria, and Nepal, among other countries.

Canto-Lugo’s list of volunteer activities is quite extensive and varied from training Bangladeshis about sustainable food and organic farming with a business focus, to working with Nigerian faculty on developing coursework, curriculum, and educational policy at a polytechnic college.

In 2016, Canto-Lugo received the Volunteer of the Year Award from VEGA (the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance) for her “Farmer-to-Farmer” program work in Nepal. One of Canto-Lugo’s main missions has been to better the lives of children and women in these communities, many of whom suffer from a variety of cultural and socio-economic barriers. Most recently, Canto-Lugo has been working in Burma (Myanmar).

Shushanek Silvas, a part-time instructor for Fresno City College and member of the State Center Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1533, was presented a Hayward Award for Excellence in Education by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. 

Through her role in tutorial, specifically with reading and writing, Silvas helped design the English Placement Test Prep, which assisted students to place more accurately. She has implemented Essential Skills Workshops while working in conjunction with the counseling and financial aid departments, to create a platform of college student success skills. 

Silvas’ also aims to understand the plight of adjunct faculty, who comprise a large portion of the student’s journey. Her recent research aims to understand the plight of adjunct faculty, in particular the psychology of adjunct faculty. Her findings uncovered a relationship between the outcome of low psychological safety for adjunct staff and potential negative effects for students. In response to her findings, Silvas is developing a program to increase institutional cohesiveness and psychological safety, which will, as a result, improve the student experience.

Hayward Award recipients are selected by their peers for demonstrating the highest level of commitment to their students, college and profession; each winner receives a $1,250 cash award.