Bobby Boswell, athletic trainer and instructor for physical, recreation and health education and sports medicine, and Flerida Arias-Zaragoza, dean of student equity, were presented with the 2015 Purdy Awards for Excellence in Education by Modesto Junior College during the Fall Institute Day on August 21. The Purdy Award, created and funded through an endowment established by the Raymond and Carolyn Purdy Estate, recognizes distinguished performance and excellence in teaching and service at MJC.
Boswell has been the head athletic trainer for MJC since 1978, and began teaching for the college in 1979. He is the lead faculty of the Associate of Science degree in Athletic Training and Sports Medicine and has created an internship program for students in this major, providing them with hands on experience working with over 500 athletes in MJC’s 21 intercollegiate sports teams. In 2004 he was recognized with a MJC Distinguished Faculty Award, and in 2013 he was named the Head Athletic Trainer of the Year from the College and University Athletic Trainer’s Committee at the National Athletic Trainers Association’s National Clinical Symposium.
Off campus, Boswell has served as athletic trainer for many USA World Teams, working at 45 World championships in 27 countries. He was named the host Athletic Trainer for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games for Freestyle and Greco Roman Wrestling and has worked at seven Olympic and World Team Trials. He served as head athletic director and sports medicine director for the Modesto Relays for 32 years and as coordinator and head athletic director for 27 National Championships with USA Wrestling, USA Gymnastics, and USA Track and Field. He has traveled to spring training for the past 15 years working with the Oakland A’s staff.
In receiving the Purdy Award, Boswell was lauded for his commitment to student success, with his nominators noting that 10 of his students recently graduated from university-level athletic training programs across the country, another 11 are currently enrolled in 4-year college programs and nine are entering a university program this fall.
A co-worker wrote of Boswell, “His creation of the AS degree in athletic training has made us one of only three (community) colleges that offer such a program in the entire United States. He has put MJC on the map, offering both a unique and elite opportunity for junior college students.”
A faculty colleague of Boswell’s commented in their nomination, “Bobby demonstrates his love for teaching and mentoring in every interaction he has with students and student athletes. He is an amazing representative of the best MJC has to offer.”
Arias-Zaragoza has been employed at MJC for over 15 years and was recently selected for the new position of Dean of Student Equity after serving as the director of TRIO pre-college programs for four years. In her role with TRIO, she and her team of staff members have served hundreds of at risk, first-generation, historically under-represented students from socioeconomically challenged areas in Stanislaus County, assisting them to be successful in continuing their education.
Arias-Zaragoza was recognized for her passion for helping students, and for her team spirit and leadership in forming partnerships, leading initiatives and developing programs for the college. She has supervised three TRIO programs – Educational Talent Search, Upward Bound, and Upward Bound Expanded – which offer supplemental instruction, academic advising, career exploration, college and financial aid information and application assistance to pre-college students. Since 2013, the three programs have come together for a six-week summer program coordinated by Arias-Zaragoza. Additionally, she organized MJC’s New Student Days for the past three years, and chaired the 2015 graduation planning committee.
One of Arias-Zaragozas’ nominators wrote, “At a community college leadership is actualized in relationships with those that you serve: students, colleagues and the institution. Flerida Arias is my friend, my worst critic, my best cheerleader, my colleague, my sister in this work that we both so desperately love and she demonstrates exemplary leadership each and every day she is on this campus.”
A committee of staff, students and faculty selected the two honorees from nominations submitted by college peers. In addition to each recipient receiving a plaque and having their names added to the perpetual Purdy Award Plaque located in MJC’s Morris Administration Building, the winners will each receive a $1,000 award which they designate to the college program or project of their choice.
For more information on the 2015 Purdy Awards, contact the MJC Foundation office at (209) 575-6068.