Barry McNamara  |   Published May 05, 2016

Hatch Award

Olaru recognized for community-centric approach to teaching with service honor
  • Assistant professor Carina Olaru has created several opportunities in the community for students to apply what they learn in class.
For Monmouth College professor Carina Olaru, the entire Monmouth community is a classroom.

Olaru – who is an assistant professor of modern languages, literatures and cultures – has created several opportunities in the community for students to apply what they learn in class.

She’s helped connect the College with Monmouth’s Latino community by founding Latinos Unidos de Monmouth; she was instrumental in the development of Latino College Day, which brings local high school students and their parents to campus; and she started several initiatives to help first-generation college students.

On May 3, Olaru’s efforts were recognized by her Monmouth faculty colleagues when she was presented Hatch Award for Distinguished Service.

As her anonymous nominator wrote, Olaru is “one of the most consistently active members of our community.”

Olaru, who joined Monmouth’s faculty in 2012, said she enjoys exposing students to “different ways of learning.”

“It’s important to acknowledge that the students need something more than what they learn in class,” she said. “I embrace my role as a model for different ways to serve the community and to empower students outside the classroom. I really appreciate that the type of work I do is valued at Monmouth College.”

Olaru has paid special attention to first-generation college students. She invited faculty and staff who were first-generation college students to share their stories with Monmouth students through posts on a Facebook page. She also brought a speaker to campus who had authored a novel about first-generation college students.

As a result, Olaru was invited to join the College’s Quality Initiative Committee, where she intends to focus on graduation rates, retention rates and experiences of Monmouth’s first-generation college students.

Olaru is also a strong advocate for study-abroad programs because of how they benefit students by exposing them to different cultures. She hosts application workshops for International Student Exchange Programs, which has led to three times as many Monmouth students participating in the program.

“In her short time at the College, she has been active and organized in creating events, programs and other opportunities that empower our students and help them succeed at the College,” her nominator wrote. “She works tirelessly and creatively to bring together members of the campus and college community.”

Added dean of the faculty David Timmerman: “I deeply appreciate the commitment Professor Olaru has for our students, their learning, and the experience they have on campus. We can all celebrate the tangible ways she has worked to make us stronger as a community.”

Funded by the late 1957 Monmouth graduate W. Jerome Hatch, a retired executive for American National Can, the Hatch Awards were established in 2004 to recognize outstanding work by Monmouth faculty in the areas of teaching, scholarship and service.
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