The Champion for Change recognition celebrates NODA members who are transforming their campuses through the implementation of intentional programs and initiatives that cultivate a sense of belonging for students and all members of their campus community.

The nomination form is open to all current members of NODA. The Diversity & Inclusion Committee reviews all nominations and chooses the Champion. The committee’s hope is that the transformative work our Champions do will inspire others to be change agents on their campuses and in their roles.

Do you know someone who is a Champion for Change? We want to showcase our members who are making a positive impact on their campuses. Self nominations are encouraged. 

Congrats to our Champions for Change!

Listening and Collaboration: The Keys to Success

Mark takes immense pride in the work he does, which involves creating programs that support students’ journeys. When asked what it took to accomplish this work, he emphasized the importance of two major steps: always listening and never working alone. “I can push for all the change and develop programs that I want to see, but without listening to the needs of the students that these programs are for, these programs would be a waste,” he explains. Mark knows that creating meaningful change requires the collaboration and buy-in of students, staff, and administration. He believes that “many hands make light work,” underscoring the value of teamwork in achieving impactful outcomes.

Advice for Change-Makers

For those who aspire to create change in their own institutions, Mark offers straightforward yet powerful advice: “Be bold. Ask questions. And work.” He acknowledges that change can be intimidating, especially at institutions that pride themselves on tradition or lack a culture of change. However, he encourages his peers to be the first to openly question processes, programs, or traditions. “I promise that you are not the only person to question what your institution is doing. Once you lift your voice, others usually join in. And even if they don’t, it is better to be a single voice than to continue supporting programs that don’t support our students.”

Leveraging Recognition for Greater Impact

Mark plans to leverage his recognition as a Champion for Change to further his impact and inspire others. He understands that people often resist making change due to the fear of what can go wrong. Mark intends to use this recognition to encourage others to just try. “I’d show them that the change can be positive and make an impact that even they may not see,” he says. Knowing that his efforts are appreciated motivates him to continue working hard and advocating for those around him.

A Journey of Advocacy and Inspiration

Mark’s commitment to fostering belonging is deeply personal, shaped by his own experiences of facing dismissal and belittlement based on his professional and personal identities. These experiences fuel his resolve to ensure others in his community never feel the same way. He strives to listen and advocate for those ostracized within the campus community, acknowledging that while he can’t create a sense of belonging for everyone, he can make a significant difference for many.

Mark draws inspiration from observing others passionately advocate for change and a better world. This drives him to continue lifting his voice in advocacy, particularly for those who may not have the means to advocate for themselves. His journey and achievements are a testament to the power of listening, collaboration, and unwavering dedication to creating inclusive and supportive environments.

Mark Bagwell
Director of New Student & Family Programs, Utah Tech University