Loren BuckinghamTwo Cuesta College employees received awards during Spring Opening Day events for faculty and staff on Jan. 18 at the San Luis Obispo campus.

Loren Buckingham of Atascadero, who works in the Disabled Student Programs and Services office, received the Service Excellence Award. It was established as an endowment fund by the Cuesta College Foundation Board of Directors to recognize outstanding job performance and service beyond normal job expectations. It comes with a $500 award.

She is a master liaison between students, staff and faculty and is known for being hardworking, self-confident and calm with a wonderful sense of humor. She started at Cuesta in 1998 and helped open the North County campus as the night student services person. She has also worked on the summer Bridge program, taught coop work experience, and worked in the academic support lab.

“I’m humbled by this because I work with fantabulous people” Buckingham said.

Thomas PatchellEnglish instructor Thomas Patchell of Arroyo Grande received $200 and the Peter and M'May Diffley Award. It recognizes a faculty member for excellence in teaching and one or more of the following: community and/or campus activism; involvement in environmental or ecological projects; involvement in the arts; and special motivation to science students. Patchell, a seven-year Cuesta employee, oversees the college’s annual student literary journal, Tellus.

“This has been an inspiration to me and I’ll continue to try to work to inspire the students,” said Patchell, a former Cuesta College student who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degree from Cal Poly.