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Western Oregon Professor Earns Faculty Mentor Award
Emily Vala-Haynes (center) at WOU's 2018 commencement with student-athletes (from left) Felicia Covey, Suzanne Van De Grift, Megan Rose and Kennedy Rufener.
Emily Vala-Haynes (center) at WOU's 2018 commencement with student-athletes (from left) Felicia Covey, Suzanne Van De Grift, Megan Rose and Kennedy Rufener.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

PORTLAND, Ore. – Dr. Emily Vala-Haynes, assistant professor of community health education at Western Oregon University, has been selected by members of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) as the recipient of its 2017-18 Faculty Mentor Award.

Presented annually by the GNAC SAAC, the Faculty Mentor Award honors faculty members at member institutions that demonstrate exemplary support to student-athletes both on and off the field of competition while representing the NCAA Division II core values of learning, passion, service, resourcefulness, sportsmanship and balance. Award recipients should have a strong commitment to preparing student-athletes to excel in their endeavors after their careers have ended.

Vela-Haynes was hired at Western Oregon in 2014 immediately after receiving her Ph.D. in demography and sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her master’s degree in global health at Emory University and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science at UC San Diego, where she was a member of the Tritons’ cross country and track and field teams.

The nomination for Vala-Haynes singled out her support of student-athletes not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well. “Emily was always there when no one else was,” the nomination reads. “She was up at 7:30 a.m. to help cheer us on at practice, she was there during the mid-hours of the day, offering us tea after a cold cross country practice or whenever we needed to just sit down and talk.

“Emily was there seeing the nationals team off and wishing them good luck. And she was there when some of us didn’t become All-Americans and helping us realize that there is so much more to life.”

The nomination also singled out Vala-Haynes’ work traveling the world doing research on and teaching about contraceptive medicine, sharing those experiences in her health education classes. Vala-Haynes also serves as a volunteer assistant coach and faculty mentor for the WOU cross country and track and field programs.

Past recipients of the GNAC SAAC Faculty Mentor Award include Laura Reid of Simon Fraser University, Amy Cooper of the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Kevin Bartlett of Seattle Pacific University.

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