Beginning in the 1990s, in response to the prison release of Nelson Mandela in South Africa, OHIO’s African Students Union began hosting African Heroes Night in recognition of Africans who have provided extraordinary leadership.
An award for faculty was added in recent years in recognition of faculty and/or staff who have significantly contributed to students’ academic success. This year Araba Dawson-Andoh, subject librarian for African studies and the social sciences, was awarded Faculty of the Year for her ability to shine her academic light onto others.
Some of the words cited to describe her attributes during the April 5th ceremony were for her “help in finding resources for research and learning—and her work organizing the orientations for international students to help them become acclimatized to an academic library in the United States.”
For many African students, Dawson-Andoh is the face of the Library.
“They feel more comfortable coming to me for help and consultations,“ said Dawson-Andoh.
Libraries are different all over the world, so in many cases, international students’ experiences differ from those here in the United States. To help ease the transition into the OHIO community, Dawson-Andoh organizes the international student orientations each semester.
“I coordinate the Libraries orientations, and I try to make it fun to ease their anxieties. I joke with them to make them feel comfortable… During the orientation they are introduced to the website, our resources and how to find materials,” she said. “I always tell them: ‘We are here to help. Do not feel that you are bothering anyone…we are here because of you.’ ”
Other award recipients included: Emmanuel Jean-Francois, College of Education, for the second Faculty of the Year award; Beatrice Selotlegeng, College of Business, for the Excellence on Campus award; and Cecilia Mensah for the Community Heroes award.
Dawson-Andoh sums up her appreciation of being named Faculty of the Year by saying: “[This award] makes me feel good that my work is being appreciated by students. I was not expecting this.”