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Seattle University


Inspiring minds

Written by Annie Beckmann
June 25, 2010

Graduating students in the class of 2010 selected a student activities staff member and an organic chemistry professor as most inspirational staff and faculty at Seattle University.

Renata Opoczynski, assistant director of student activities in Student Development, and Joseph Langenhan, assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Science & Engineering, both say it’s a huge honor, particularly because the honor comes from students.

In 2006 Opoczynski joined SU, working with clubs, the Dance Marathon fundraiser and the Student Events and Activities Council (SEAC). In October 2008, she switched to her current role, working with the Associated Students of Seattle University (ASSU), the desk of the Campus Assistance Center (CAC) and once again, the Dance Marathon, which this year raised more than $20,000 for Seattle Children’s Hospital. “In these roles, I work directly with student leaders and have one-on-one meetings with many of them weekly,” Opoczynski says. “I was extremely humbled by the award because the students we have here at SU are amazing. Every day they inspire and impress me anew. The award means the most to me because the students are why I do what I do.”

Langenhan just finished his fifth year at the university. He mentors undergraduate research students and teaches predominantly organic chemistry (both lecture and laboratory courses), a subject he says is often more widely feared than loved. Students can excel in the subject, he says, through his learner-centered model that requires more active participation and engagement on the part of students.   

“I was delighted to receive this award,” Langenhan says. “I can think of no greater honor as a professor than to be nominated for such an award by my students.”