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Past U Make a Difference award winner: 'Everything we enjoy is the result of somebody’s hard work'

Nominate a colleague or team who are making a real difference on campus – deadline March 10
February 23, 2017
Isadora Mok-Kulakova, who works at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary, received a U Make a Difference Award in 2016. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

Isadora Mok-Kulakova, who works at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary, received a U Make a Difference Award in 2016. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary 

Do you work with a colleague or team members who are making a real difference at the University of Calgary? Nominate them for a 2017 U Make a Difference Award; nominations accepted until March 10.

As an online learning environment lead in the Educational Development Unit of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, Isadora Mok-Kulakova’s days are steeped in technology. She works closely with faculty and instructors to help them integrate technology into their classrooms and courses, and she knows the importance of open communication and co-operation in a technological environment.

“Technology can be frustrating sometimes,” said Mok-Kulakova, “so I try to reach people in different ways that work for them — either by screencast, phone, via email, a remote session or in person — and get them the information they need to do their work.”

Mok-Kulakova’s flexible approach stems from understanding what issues faculty and instructors may face when bringing technology into the classroom. “I like to play around with technology or test new approaches so that when somebody reports a problem, I know if it’s a technological issue or if it’s a user knowledge gap — and if that’s the case, we can create more documentation on the subject to help others down the road.”

This forward-thinking and inclusive approach led to Mok-Kulakova receiving a U Make a Difference award in the area of collaboration and communication last year. She now keeps the Inukshuk award she received from the ceremony at her workspace as a reminder of the importance of recognition.

“It serves as a good reminder to do your best,” she said. “A lot of people do good work and it’s important to recognize others — we’re all vulnerable in different ways so we need to support each other.”

U Make a Difference awards recognize those who go above and beyond

The peer-nominated awards celebrate outstanding contributions by graduate students, faculty, staff and postdoctoral scholars who have made a major contribution in the workplace. The U Make a Difference awards recognize excellence in one of three areas: innovation and curiosity, collaboration and communication, and contributions to a positive work environment and community.

As Mok-Kulakova sees it, recognition is important in creating a community of co-operation.

“Everything we enjoy is the result of somebody’s hard work,” said Mok-Kulakova, “so we need to depend on each other — we might be knowledgeable in one area, but not as confident in another.”

After twice being nominated for a U Make a Difference award in 2010 and 2012, Mok-Kulakova was surprised when she won in 2016.
“I never expected it,” Mok-Kulakova said. “Knowing how much time nominators spend writing letters and seeking support encourages me. It makes me ask myself — going forward, what can I do to make things better?”

About the U Make a Difference awards

Recipients will be announced on May 25, 2017 at the annual recognition event. Visit the Recognition website or contact recognition@ucalgary.ca for more information and to nominate a colleague, group or team effort for this year’s award.