Block Student Associate leader Chayda Harding recognized with 2022 Wildcat Impact Award

On May 31, the Block Museum team proudly celebrated graduating senior Chayda Harding (History ’22) as they were recognized by their peers and the Office of Student Affairs with a prestigious 2022 Wildcat Impact Award for their work as the Block Museum Student Associates Program and Tours Coordinator. Chayda was recognized for embodying the Northwestern value of Collaboration, by the Student Recognition Committee.

Northwestern’s Annual Wildcat Impact Awards honors the achievements of students who have significantly contributed to improving the quality of student life at Northwestern. These students embody demonstrated Student Affairs values of integrity, innovation, social justice, responsible stewardship, and collaborative work with others, to create a more engaged and inclusive campus community.

Statement from Erin Northington, Associate Director, Campus and Community Education and Engagement

I can think of no one more deserving of this recognition. In their role as Block Museum Student Associate Program and Tours Coordinator, Chayda serves as a peer mentor and co-facilitator of our cohort; a master educator comfortable working with broad and diverse audiences; an advocate for the Block on campus; an astute and sensitive facilitator who is able to move group of 16 students to consensus; and a valued professional colleague at the museum responsible for the complex coordination of all group visits from campus, Evanston, Chicago, and beyond. For us, Chayda embodies Northwestern values in important ways.

In our annual student acquisition process, our team of 16 students must work together over 10 weeks to research, select, and recommend an object for The Block to acquire into its collection. Chayda takes a leading role in helping the group come to a consensus, and to listen respectfully and openly to each other — particularly where there are differing opinions. Chayda brings particular strength in leaning into moments of disagreement to reveal how and why people feel the way they do. Embracing these multiple perspectives and viewpoints makes us stronger as a team. Chayda centers and honors the diversity of this group by ensuring that all students are seen and heard, and by celebrating what makes us unique and what we hold in common.

Our Student Acquisition process allows Northwestern students to work with our curators to shape the collection for future generations. Chayda understands the impact of this annual process, and its role in continuing to steward the resources of Northwestern for the future. Chayda brings clarity and vision to what they feel is important to have on campus, and the impact this will have on Northwestern as a community going forward.

We can’t say enough about them! It will be hard to fill their shoes, and we will miss them. It has been a privilege to work with Chayda over the past 3 years at the museum.

More Colleague Reflections

It has been a privilege to work with and observe Chayda in a leadership role with the Block Student Associates. They lead with such incredible grace and empathy; their thoughtful and inclusive approach to facilitating conversations is something I hope to emulate in my work in the future. They have been a crucial part of building community within the program.

– Essi Ronkko, Associate Curator of Collections

It doesn’t take long for anyone to feel the friendly, dynamic presence that Chayda brings into any space or interaction. They hold and continue to sharpen such an important quality: an attentiveness to people and interpersonal dynamics. This has shown up time and time again in the discussions Chayda has planned and led among Student Associates. The strong bond felt among the Student Associate cohort altogether is a further testament to Chayda’s strength in including everyone and fostering a sense of community.

– Isabella Ko, Engagement Coordinator

Chayda has been a model of endless curiosity, generosity, and excellence throughout their tenure in many roles at The Block Museum over the past several years, culminating in their stellar leadership in the 2021-2022 academic year. Chayda has taken on a new (and new to the museum!) role with incredible grace and creativity, and their commitment to this work (as well as their effervescent spirit) has made them so esteemed both by colleagues in the Block Museum Student Associates program and the larger Block Museum staff.

– América Salomón, Manager of Public Programs

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