Negeen sitting on campusNegeen Lotfi sits in the midst of the bustling campus Starbucks where students are busily buying their morning caffeine fix before rushing off to class. She is barely seated before she starts discussing her passion for student engagement and why she wants to make it a career.

“As an undergrad, I was able to find my sense of self and belonging here and I want to see that in others,” Lotfi says. “I have the ability to empathize because I’ve been in their shoes. I can now help guide students through their college development and directly see the impact I’m making on their lives. Supporting students is where my focus lies.”

Lotfi graduated from Chapman in 2016, majoring in Strategic and Corporate Communications with a minor in Integrated Educational Studies. She is now a second year graduate student in the Attallah College Masters of Arts in Leadership Development (MLD) program with an emphasis in higher education.

A native of Orange, she says that her career path was not always so crystal clear. Her involvement in campus groups, different activities and events led her to seek a career in student affairs, so the MLD program seemed like a natural fit. She is employed part time as a graduate assistant in Chapman’s department of student engagement.

“Because I have this position working with students, the theories I’ve studied in class are being put to practice,” she says. “I was able to navigate any challenges right away.”

She learned in September that she has been named the 2017 recipient of the NASPA (Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education) Region VI Graduate Rising Star Award. NASPA Awards Chair Sherry Mallory says this “recognizes a graduate student for their achievement, involvement, and potential in the student affairs profession.”

Her award also includes a cash prize and free registration to the NASPA Western Regional Conference held in Honolulu, Hawaii this November where she will be recognized at an awards luncheon. Several other student affairs staff from Chapman will be attending the conference as well.

Chapman’s Assistant Director of the Student Union and Fitness Center, Michael Keyser, spearheaded the efforts to nominate Lotfi for this award. As her supervisor, he penned a letter of nomination as well as coordinating her entire nomination packet. He shared a small piece of his nomination letter highlighting her hard work.

“Over the years, Negeen has played many important roles at Chapman,” Keyser writes. “As a program coordinator in the Cross-Cultural Center, Negeen works in a high-pressure environment with high expectations. As expected, she produces amazing results in all areas of her work including the hiring and training of the inaugural student staff, planning successful cultural graduations, and designing the facility’s procedures and policies. Negeen has made an incredible impact at Chapman and I am confident that her biggest successes in student affairs are still to come.”