Colleen Opalka Receives UNC Staff Assembly Scholarship

Monday, September 18, 2017

Colleen Opalka has been named a recipient of the Janet B. Royster Memorial Staff Scholarship by the UNC Staff Assembly.

Opalka, executive assistant to the dean in the College of Health and Human Services, is the first UNCW employee to receive the scholarship named in honor of Janet Royster, a UNC-TV employee who served on the General Administration Staff Forum and the UNC Staff Assembly. The scholarship promotes staff development for full-time, non-faculty employees.

“It is important to me to progress with today’s standards for administrative professionals, as it is an ever-evolving role,” Opalka said. “I had the privilege to serve on the UNCW Staff Senate for two years, and it was the Senate that brought to light the opportunity to apply for the Janet B. Royster Memorial Staff Scholarship. I have had the good fortune to learn about effective leadership from the members of the Senate while watching the group as a whole have a positive impact campus-wide.”

The JBR Memorial Staff Scholarship provides financial assistance toward earning a degree or other professional certification. The maximum award amount per academic year is $1,000. Scholarship recipients are selected by a committee, which considers several factors including educational goals, financial needs, commitment to his or her institution, and relationship of the educational program to the scholarship applicant’s job.

Opalka will use the scholarship toward the American Society of Administrative Professionals’ Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence exam testing and, ultimately, certification. She joined UNCW in August 2013, where she worked in the Office of International Programs. In April 2015, Opalka transitioned to the role of executive assistant to the dean within CHHS.

“My passion and motivation for continuous learning within my profession is so generously supported by both my supervisor and my colleagues within CHHS and across campus,” said Opalka. “To have constant encouragement to develop oneself professionally, and ‘to reach for the stars’ while doing so, is a gift.”

-- Venita Jenkins