TAHLEQUAH – Northeastern State University presented the 2008-2009 Circle of Excellence Awards to Dr. Clara Camero, Dr. Ernst Bekkering and Dr. Heidi Thoden at a special ceremony on Thursday, April 23 in the NET Building Tower. The Circle of Excellence awards recognize outstanding faculty and reward them for their hard work in the areas of research, teaching and service.
“These three people individually and collectively merit our admiration and appreciation,” said NSU President Dr. Don Betz. “If there is one quality that ties them all together, it’s that they get up in the morning and know they are going to make a difference.”
Each recipient will receive a brick to be placed in the Circle of Excellence, located in front of Seminary Hall. In addition to securing a permanent place in NSU history, recipients will receive a substantial award for their selection (their choice of a new computer or $2,500 to use toward professional development).
Dr. Clara Camero – Teaching. Dedicated to providing her students with practical experience in speaking Spanish, Dr. Clara Camero works with the growing Spanish-speaking community in Oklahoma to engage her students in practical conversations to utilize the language they are learning. Known for caring about the success of her students well beyond graduation, Camero joined the faculty at NSU in 2000. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Universidad Pedagógica and her master’s from the Instituto Caro y Cuervo, both located in Bogota, Columbia. She went on to earn her Ph.D. in Spanish from the University of Houston in 1999. A life-long educator, Camero began her career as a Spanish teacher at Royal High School in Brookshire, Texas, before moving into higher education, with stints at Columbian Basin College in Washington State, Houston Community College, Kingwood College and the University of Houston. She is a member of Sigma Delta Pi, the Modern Language Association of America, Oklahoma Foreign Language Teachers Association, South Central Modern Language Association, Latin American Studies Association and Association of Colombianists. She is currently developing a text and accompanying CDs on “Spanish for Educators,” which has already been accepted for publication.
Dr. Ernst Bekkering – Research. Since joining the faculty at Northeastern State University in 2004, Dr. Ernst Bekkering has completed an impressive amount of research between teaching classes, volunteering time on committees for the university and the College of Business and Technology, and working with students. While at NSU, he has co-authored six peer-reviewed journal articles, six book chapters and 16 presentations, proceeding and other publications. Most of his research focuses on the use of technology and its impact on humans, as well as using technology to improve instruction. Bekkering earned his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy in the Netherlands, and his master’s degree and Ph.D. in Business Information Systems at Mississippi State University. He spent three years as a graduate assistant at MSU, before being appointed an assistant professor at NSU. He has received several awards for his research, including the MMA Best Marketing Education Award, and the 2004 Outstanding Collaborative Research Award with Kimberly Davis and Merril Warkentin.
Dr. Heidi Thoden – Service. For the past 12 years, Dr. Heidi Thoden has reached beyond the classroom and clinic walls to provide essential sight-giving services to people in need. She annually co-directs vision screenings for the Oklahoma Special Olympics, has served on numerous optometric mission trips to the Brazilian Amazon River and Mexico and provided two days of eye care services to Hurricane Katrina victims at Camp Gruber. She has also devoted time to community service, volunteering at the First Lutheran Church of Tahlequah and Tahlequah Area Habitat for Humanity. She is also a member of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, Tahlequah Lions Club, Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians, American Academy of Optometry, College of Optometrists in Vision Development and American Optometric Student Association. She has received the Oklahoma Lions Humanitarian Award and the Oklahoma Young Optometrist of the Year Award, both with her husband, Dr. Wes DeRosier. Thoden earned her bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University and her Doctor of Optometry from the University of Missouri – St. Louis College of Optometry. She joined the faculty at NSU in 1997, and currently serves as chief of the Rural Eye Program and director of external clinical programs at NSUOCO.