Students interacted with therapy dogs as part of the Cirque de De-Stress Program at the Iwasaki Library at the end of the Fall 2014 semester. The program has won the 2015 Spirit of Emerson Group Award. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)
Emerson College has announced the winners of the second annual Spirit of Emerson Awards for the 2014–2015 academic year.
Nyla Wissa ’15 has won the individual Spirit of Emerson Award, and the group award recipients are the three staff members who created the Cirque de De-Stress program: Diane Paxton, director of Student Accessibility Services; Patricia Challan, associate director of Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services (ECAPS); and Mary Cate Hirschbiel, outreach coordinator at the Iwasaki Library.
The group award will be presented during Faculty Assembly on Tuesday, April 28. The individual award will be presented at the EVVY Awards on Saturday, May 16.
The Spirit of Emerson Awards are given annually to members of the Emerson community who increase the radiance, reputation, accomplishments, and overall positive spirit of Emerson College in keeping with the College’s legacy and President Lee Pelton’s five objectives. The award recipients are chosen after receiving nominations from the Emerson community and being voted upon by the Spirit of Emerson Committee, which is chaired by Associate Professor Eiki Satake and composed of previous winners, as well as students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Wissa, a Performing Arts major, is the founder of Flawless Brown, the first women of color theater troupe at Emerson College that began in the Spring 2014 semester. All of those who nominated her emphasized that she has created not only a safe community for women of color to share their talents and feelings, but also a sisterhood that provides performances that more than filled an important gap in Emerson’s artistic menu, according to the Spirit of Emerson Committee.
Wissa has worked for WERS-FM as producer and host of The Secret Spot, and most recently worked as an intern at the Sony, Bialy Thomas & Associates casting agency. As founder and director of Flawless Brown, Wissa wrote, produced, and directed two full-length productions and managed rehearsals and schedules for 15 female actors, among several other tasks.
Wissa previously won the Isabel Sanford Award for Artistic Excellence at Emerson and the Boston Arts Academy Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
Cirque de De-Stress is a program designed by Paxton, Challan, and Hirschbiel to increase student morale at stressful times of year—final exam periods—and includes students interacting with therapy dogs. There is also food, arts and crafts, meditation, and yoga available for participating students.
A therapy dog stopped by the Iwasaki Library at the end of the Fall 2014 semester as part of the Cirque de De-Stress Program. (Photo by Nick Eaton '17)
First held at the end of the Fall 2014 semester in the Iwasaki Library, Cirque de De-Stress was considered a successful event that increased interactions between students and staff. The unconditional acceptance expressed by the therapy animals helped calm people and unite them in a shared interest activity.
Diane Paxton, director of Student Accessibility Services; Patricia Challan, associate director of Emerson Counseling and Psychological Services; and M. Cate Hirschbiel, outreach coordinator at the Iwasaki Library. (Photo by Tyler McAndrew '16)
Cirque de De-Stress grew out of Emerson’s Community PlanIt civic engagement game last fall, when participants voted to bring the program to campus.
The next Cirque de De-Stress event is scheduled for Friday, April 24, 3:00–7:00 pm, in the Iwasaki Library.
Cirque de De-Stress was organized by the Iwasaki Library and received support from Student Life, ECAPS, the Student Accessibility Services Office, the Lacerte Family Writing and Academic Resource Center, and the Office of Student Success.