Colgate professors Alex Nakhimovsky, Ulrich Meyer, and Ed Witherspoon this week received Patriot Awards from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) in recognition of their support of a Colgate staff member serving in the Air National Guard at the Eastern Air Defense Sector in Rome, N.Y.

Technical Sergeant ‎Leialoha Mara, who is an administrative assistant in the departments of philosophy, linguistics, and Jewish studies, nominated the professors for recognition for the ways they have embraced her work in the guard since 2016.

Professor Ed Witherspoon accepts an ESGR Patriot Award this week. (Photo by Samto Wongso ’19)

“If I have to perform any duties for my unit, the professors have been very supportive, even if the notices are last minute. Not only do they appreciate and support my service, they also support my education,” Mara said, adding that she has been taking two classes each semester at Colgate to continue working toward a degree.

“They have also supported my personal life. Professors Meyr, Nakhimovsky, and Witherspoon have permitted me go home to take care of my children when they are ill, if I have appointments, or to support family events like birthdays or school activities. They are well-rounded supervisors and mentors. I am so happy to work with such amazing, diverse, brilliant, and compassionate scholars.”

Mara’s commanding officer at the base in Rome, Col. David Bartczak, said her work, and the support of Colgate’s professors, helps make the guard’s duties of protecting the nation’s airspace possible.

“That’s what you are all part of,” Bartczak said. “You are contributing to that homeland defense mission.”