Laura Stott named Supervisor of the Year for her work with students

Award from Experiential Learning recognizes her ability to guide, encourage, and advise her student employees

Laura Stott with Koye Oputa, the student who nominated her for the Supervisor of the Year award.

Image caption: Laura Stott, right, with Koye Oputa, the student who nominated her for the Supervisor of the Year award.


When a large window on one side of Homewood's Glass Pavilion shattered without warning about a year ago—a loud blast that rattled nerves and sent students scampering—Laura Stott was among the first who showed up to assess the damage and soothe the anxious students inside.

Her first reaction: "Is anybody hurt?" Her second: "What caused this?" And her third: "How do we fix it?" (She drew the blinds to hide the splintered window and, after investigating, concluded that the glass had been struck by an errant bird, not a rock flung by a vandal, as students had feared.)

The reassuring presence of Stott, interim deputy to the associate vice provost for student engagement at Johns Hopkins University, restored calm among the worried students within minutes.

"I care about students. I want them to be successful, and I'm grateful when I can be a connection point for them to achieve that success."
Laura Stott
Interim deputy to the associate vice provost for student engagement

That's how she is—all about putting students first. "I've always been student-centered," Stott says. "Students are a big part of what we do: help them grow, listen to their challenges, and hopefully help them build skills for the future. I see myself as connector between students and the rest of the campus."

So, it was no surprise—to either the students or colleagues who work with her—that Stott recently was honored as Supervisor of the Year by the Department of University Experiential Learning, which facilitates paid part-time work experiences and internships for students.

Also honored for their achievements this year were undergraduate Layann Bashir, a student graphic designer working with the reunion and homecoming team in the Office of Alumni Relations; and graduate student Erin Broas, a student program specialist in the Center for Communication Programs at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Nominations for Student Employee and Supervisor of the Year were solicited early in the spring semester. Students are recognized for making significant contributions to the university through their paid student job/internships, either on or off campus, and the supervisor for consistently bringing the student employment portion of experiential learning full circle by guiding, encouraging, and advising their student employees. Staff and faculty from throughout the JHU community reviewed and scored the nominations; the average combined scores in each category resulted in the top three, which were sent to a review committee to choose the winners.

The students and Stott were feted April 9 at a campus ceremony that recognized all nominated student employees and supervisors. Each year, about 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students find positions through Experiential Learning and, because some take on more than one job, they can fill as many as 14,000 spots.

"Laura Stott always has the student in the center," says Monica Lieblong, assistant director of Experiential Learning. "Whenever you get tons of people trying to plan an event, she always says, What do the students want? I love that about her. The students love her."

Koye Oputa, a senior majoring in cognitive science in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, described Stott in her nominating letter as "firm enough to hold our [student ambassador] team accountable when appropriate," and "extremely gracious, which helps me to move past and learn from a mistake rather than feeling hindered or ashamed by it." Also, she added, Stott leads "with positivity and grace while still calling (and encouraging) people to meet standards."

Oputa also pointed out in her nomination that Stott is unusually sensitive to students' financial stresses, finding ways to make them feel comfortable about their need to work. Last fall, for example, "when I realized I would need another part-time job to make ends meet, I was distressed and reached out to Ms. Stott to see if she knew of other jobs on campus," Oputa wrote. "Not only did she help me find a part-time job with another office, she also shared many resources available to me on campus. I felt uncomfortable and hesitant to reach out for help because I know that there are people who are worse off than me. However, Ms. Stott encouraged me in the value of advocating for myself, and it helped me get additional support."

There is a reason for this empathy, and it's personal. "I was in the same position when I was at Virginia Tech," Stott recalls. "My parents and I had made a deal that they would pay half my tuition, and I would pay the other half. I needed financial support, so I worked at the university library.

"I knew what it meant to have a job in between classes," she adds. "I put myself in her shoes because I had been in them. Working helps build community. For me, and for our students, working puts value into our courses. I never skipped class because I knew it was my money and my effort that I put into it."

Stott, who is originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, joined Hopkins in August 2018. She has spent 27 years working in higher education, specifically in student programming, student center management, and student organizations, among others. She has a BA in liberal arts and sciences from Virginia Tech and an MEd in student personnel in higher education from the University of Georgia.

Before coming to JHU, she was associate director of Student Involvement at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where her portfolio included student government, student organizations, and operations for the Student Involvement Department. She also has worked in private and midsize schools, including the University of Miami and Drexel University, where she represented student interests in the development of co-curricular programs and upgraded union facilities.

She now manages the Johns Hopkins student centers, is adviser to the Graduate Representative Organization, and manages special projects for the associate vice provost for student engagement/dean of students in her role as interim deputy.

"Personally speaking," Oputa added in her nomination of Stott, "she has slowed down to show me kindness, both as a worker and a student, and has provided me with great support and encouragement, which I appreciate especially considering how busy she must be."

"I care about students," Stott says. "I want them to be successful, and I'm grateful when I can be a connection point for them to achieve that success. I was thrilled I could make that connection for Koye in a way that was really impactful for her. We always hope to have that kind of impact. But to have a student share that publicly—and then be recognized for it—was very meaningful for me."

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