Jennifer Bradford, program coordinator for graduate advising in the Department of Biology at Texas A&M University, has been selected to receive the 2021 Excellence in Graduate Advising Award as only the third such honoree in Texas A&M history.
Established in 2019, the award recognizes academic advisors who demonstrate knowledge, care, empathy and advocacy while helping to create and nurture an environment in which highly qualified, diverse graduate and professional students can thrive. Bradford was recognized with a plaque and a $500 cash award, jointly presented last week by Texas A&M Office of Student Success and University Advisors and Counselors leadership as part of the annual University Advisors and Counselors Awards Breakfast held May 11.
Bradford joined the Texas A&M Biology staff in January 2014 and previously earned a 2016 College of Science Outstanding Staff Achievement Award for excellence in her oversight of all graduate program-related support aspects, from organizing recruiting and fielding information inquiries to assisting students with paperwork and interfacing with a variety of related campus offices. In addition to serving as the face of the Biology Graduate Program, she has become a leader in creating departmental outreach and networking activities that were virtually nonexistent prior to her arrival in Aggieland.
Bradford also coordinates all diversity-related efforts within the department while serving as a member of the College of Science Diversity Committee. She was recognized with a 2018 Leadership in Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Award for her commitment to enhancing the college’s environment of mutual respect and diversity.
“I have worked with Jennifer for four years, and she undeniably impresses upon me that her activities and passion for service to the students of Texas A&M far surpass the job description of a Graduate Coordinator,” said Texas A&M Biologist and Associate Head for Graduate Affairs Dr. Rene Garcia. “I am familiar with Jennifer’s administrative knowledge and efficiency, and I can comment that she is she is fiercely proactive in initiating and carrying out independent activities that promote career enhancement and morale building for the graduate students she serves.”
Bradford’s nominators say her leadership skills have been magnified by the multiple crises facing members of the Texas A&M community during the past year. As one example, she was instrumental in launching a Pocket Pantry last fall through the Dean’s Graduate Student Advisory Council to address food insecurity among students, along with a related fundraising drive to collect monetary and gift card donations.
“The COVID crisis impacted every single graduate student in the Department of Biology, and Jennifer made it a priority to contact and schedule a virtual meeting to assess our wellbeing,” one student shared. “Additionally, the recent winter storm impacted many individuals, and in these unprecedented times, efforts by Jennifer to provide housing, food and transport were inspiring… . To say that Jennifer is deserving of the Excellence in Graduate Advising Award undersells her presence in the Department of Biology.”
Bradford’s past career honors also include a 2017-18 President’s Meritorious Service Award, Texas A&M’s highest honor for staff.