By Kim Lamb Gregory

Starting the fall semester on a high note at the President’s Convocation, President Richard Yao recognized a faculty member, a staff member and a student for exceptional contributions during the 2021-22 academic year. 

Recipients were Ekin Pehlivan, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing; Megan Eberhardt-Alstot, Teaching & Learning Innovation (TLI)’s Learning Design Lead; and Sheradyn Ruef, Computer Science student. 


Nominations for Pehlivan were numerous with one even describing her as “family.”

“When you have someone who genuinely and consistently cares about your best interest and is not afraid to provide genuine feedback, there is no other word than ‘family’ for that,” the nomination read.

As Yao presented her with the President’s Teaching & Innovation Award, he praised Pehlivan’s many achievements, with special emphasis on “CI Solutions” — previously known as the Micro-Internship Program. The student-run agency assists area businesses and nonprofits with specific tasks and projects.

“Over the years I have witnessed how learning by doing opens so many unforeseen doors, for there is nothing like a safe and supportive place to fail gracefully, then only to get back up and try again,” Pehlivan said. “And no better place than a university to serve as this safe place for our students.”

LIFESAVING WORKMegan Eberhardt-Alstot

Receiving the 2022 President’s Staff Award for Excellence was both a professional and a deeply personal highlight for Eberhardt-Alstot.

When she first entered CSUCI’s master’s program for Educational Leadership, she was newly married with no children. Seven years later, she was a single mom. 

“My whole life fell apart personally. I found myself unemployed and moving back in with my parents and a 3-year-old,” she said. “CSUCI saved my life.” 

After teaching in the Pleasant Valley School District for a time, Eberhardt-Alstot accepted a job with CSUCI, which she describes as “winning the lottery.”

Because of her own situation as a working single mother, Eberhardt-Alstot is passionate about online learning and the flexibility it provides non-traditional students like her. In fact, Eberhardt-Alstot is currently pursuing a Ph.D. online.

During the pandemic, Eberhardt-Alstot and the rest of the TLI team helped prepare 8,000 students for online learning through a program called Learning Online 101, which she helped develop in 2018.

She was reluctant to accept personal recognition without honoring the contributions of the TLI team.

“It was overwhelming because we’re such a team, and it’s hard to accept this as an individual when you know it has everybody else’s fingerprints on it,” she said.


The 2022 President’s Award for Student Innovation caps off numerous honors Ruef has earned on campus, including being named a President’s Scholar. 

A nomination letter written by Professor and Chair of Computer Science Michael Soltys, Ph.D., spoke of her work as a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) tutor, a student research volunteer and a Data Student Analyst Student Assistant for Career Development & Alumni Engagement.

After Ruef interned with the Naval Air Systems Command, Soltys offered her a position at GBL Systems, where he is a principal scientist. 

“It is difficult to overestimate Ms. Ruef’s abilities; they are uncommon, and she serves as a great role model for the class,” Soltys said in his nomination letter. 

Ruef plans to become a cybersecurity professional and an advocate for women in STEM, a career trajectory she says she was able to forge because of CSUCI.

“I feel like I can make an impact here because every student matters at Channel Islands. I truly believe everyone has a place here, and I’m so glad I’ve found mine as part of the CSUCI family.” 

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© Winter 2023 / Volume 27 / Number 2 / Biannual

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