On behalf of the Kinesiology and Physical Education Program, I am pleased to announce Jacquelyn Hatzke as the recipient of this year’s Wardian Student Leadership Award.
Jacquelyn stands out in our department for numerous reasons. She is currently the only non-traditional student in our undergraduate Kinesiology and Physical Education degree program. She came to Gonzaga in Fall 2016 after working as a medical assistant in women’s health for over 10 years. She received her AA from Spokane Community College, completed all of her nursing prerequisites, and was on a path to nursing school when she decided to change career paths due to her passion for teaching. She chose Health and Physical Education because as she says, “I feel that it is the most relevant and meaningful subject for students”.
She is not only a full-time student, but a full-time mother and wife. She has 5 boys, ages ranging 9 to 19 that she does homework with, drives to soccer, football, lacrosse, basketball, rugby, and cross-country. She and her husband Kevin, also find time to play golf and softball together. At the beginning, there was a concern among some in our department that she would be able to fit into the program as a non-traditional student and mother. That concern was quickly wiped away.
Jacquelyn excels in the classroom. Ask any professor in our program who is the most engaged and reflective, and the answer will be Jacquelyn. When other students shy away from speaking up in class—Jacquelyn does not. I have had Jacquelyn in six different courses over two years, and when I look out at my students as I am explaining a concept—I see her processing, taking notes, and raising her hand to contribute. She is present and driven to learn. When the expectation is a two-page reflection, she submits a four-page reflection that is riveting to read. She is a tremendous asset to our classes as a role model for professionalism and work ethic.
Jacquelyn is also a servant leader. This semester in her Adapted Physical Education and Sport course, all students were required to complete 12 hours of observation or volunteer work in a physical activity setting for special populations. Jacquelyn chose to go to Shadle Park High School and complete all of her hours assisting the adapted physical education teacher. Some students in the course expressed difficulty in being able to jump in and work with individuals with disabilities. Not Jacquelyn—she is not one to sit on the sidelines due to fear or lack of confidence. She essentially became part of the class and worked directly with the students while she was there. I want to read you an excerpt from her reflection on the experience that speaks to her character:
“I never would have considered being an adapted physical education teacher before this observation and was initially intimidated. By engaging with the students and gaining more knowledge about the dynamics, I now feel much more comfortable and would not be as opposed to teaching adapted PE. It was actually a little sad to leave; I told the teachers and students that I would be back to visit, and I will keep my word on that. The value that I got from my time in this class is immeasurable. Every teacher, whether they are in PE or not should observe and volunteer in this type of class, as it is insightful and humbling and also encouraging. It takes a great amount of love, compassion, patience, resolve and energy (mentally, physically and emotionally) to give these kids the best out of yourself and to effectively meet their needs and it takes very special people to do this well. I have such a respect for the para-educators and their devotion and acceptance of these students. In turn, the students themselves are inspirational and have equal devotion to those who support them. “
I have no doubt that Jacquelyn will be the kind of teacher that gives her students the very best of herself. She is a student that challenges me to be the best I can be because I know she wants to serve with excellence and make a life-changing impact on students. I want to do everything I can to support her being an effective and inspirational educator.
Last but not least, Jacquelyn stands out as the best 90s hip hop dancer in our program. In the Fall, we had a dance-off competition in which Jacquelyn was pronounced the Queen of Dance. She sets the bar high for those around her in everythingshe does.
Thank you Jacquelyn for your dedication to scholastic excellence, your commitment to education, and for your service to all those around you. Congratulations, your award is well deserved.