Dr. Tara Opsal has been selected as a 2022 Career Impact Award recipient by CSU’s Career Center. This award recognizes students, staff, faculty, employers, and alumni who are champions for student career development, equity and inclusion, and student success.
“Tara leads by example as she incorporates DEI into her innovative and collaborative approaches to student success. The transformative experiences Tara has created are raising the bar for Sociology students’ career aspirations and outcomes,” her Sociology fan club noted when nominating her.
Most recently, Tara has expanded student opportunities by increasing connections with alumni and integrating career-focused modules into Sociology courses. Tara launched these efforts by helping Sociology get a Provost grant for a self-study that included career outcomes. With evidence that students want more career guidance, Tara secured funding from the Provost and CLA Dean to create and implement mentoring modules. The modules include alumni giving real-world examples of how their diverse identities (e.g. racial, gender, First Gen) shape their professional experiences and how Sociology’s skillset is valuable in the workforce. Students also hear from Sociology faculty as mentors and learn strategies for seizing opportunities throughout their college career and post-graduation. Module content has been adapted for Sociology’s hallway displays, website content, and prospective student materials.
The alumni videos, photos, and quotes Tara gathered complement CSU’s Career Competencies as vital components of the course modules, and they sparked an outreach effort. Under her direction, over 70 Sociology alumni have been personally contacted and asked how they’d like to be involved with students (e.g. mentors, internship/employment providers, speakers). Response has been spectacular! Staff are facilitating requests for student-alumni connections, and Tara is organizing an alumni panel for just after spring break.
In 2019 Tara was accepted into CSU’s Faculty Institute for Inclusive Excellence that promotes increased DEI measures within departments, classrooms, curriculum, and pedagogy. “As a First Gen and transfer student herself, Tara goes above and beyond to reach and celebrate Sociology’s students from diverse backgrounds,” her fan club also noted. She directly contacts transfers each fall, and in 2019 she launched the department’s inaugural First Gen Dinner for incoming students to connect with First Gen faculty and graduate students.
Congratulations, Tara! Thank you for ALL you do for our students!