Susie Cassel Named 2024 DBU Staff Member of the Year

Susie Cassel receiving the award for Staff Member of the Year from DBU President Dr. Adam C. Wright in the Hillcrest Great Hall on the DBU Campus

"My favorite thing about working at DBU is the freedom to share my faith with our students. I am so thankful that if a student is in my office struggling, I can freely pray with them. No matter their faith background, I have never had a student turn down prayer."

During the annual Staff Appreciation Luncheon this semester, Director of International Student Services Susie Cassel was named DBU Staff Member of the Year. Susie lives in Irving, TX, with her husband of eight years, James, and their four cats. They thrive in their role as "Best Aunt and Uncle ever" to their 11 nieces and 13 nephews. "While we were not blessed to have our own children, we have the honor to be the 'American parents' of our many DBU International Students."

In Susie's role as the Director of International Student Services, she works to ensure a quality experience for every international student. She meets with students daily to discuss how she can help make their DBU experience the best experience for them. Susie desires each student to grow academically, socially, financially, and, most importantly, spiritually. Working in the International Office often leads Susie to help the department in unique ways. Taking a break from her typical office tasks to chip in around the office and lend a helping hand to other staff members is always the highlight of her day. "Sometimes, I wash dishes after an event, drive a shuttle, bake dessert for an International Week event, or sew fabric for event décor. To me, that is the essence of servant leadership: remembering that no task is beneath me."

When Susie was a teenager, she never imagined what her life would be like today. She's grateful that someone tapped her on the shoulder to apply to be an RA when she was 19 because the leadership skills she learned in that role guide her daily in her career. Her college mentor had a motto, "It's all about relationships," and this motto sticks with Susie even today. She approaches every interaction with a student with this phrase at the front of her mind.

Susie served in Lithuania for three years, immersing herself in a foreign culture. God taught her how important it is to trust in Him during this experience. Simple things like buying groceries or going to the post office became difficult in this new place. She learned to lean on her local colleagues, who greatly blessed her. The Lord used this experience to develop a passion for International students in Susie. "I love that I have the opportunity to be a similar blessing to the students who come to DBU. It's not just about helping them navigate a new culture and learn to buy their groceries, but about helping DBU be a place where they feel welcomed, celebrated, valued, wanted, and loved."

DBU President Adam C. Wright asked Susie to prepare a brief message on how DBU staff can get more involved with international students during the Staff Appreciation Luncheon. She was unaware that Dr. Wright was scheming in the background to honor her with this award. "I was so surprised! Dr. Wright started saying so many complimentary things about me and how I approach my work, and I was honored to have someone I respect so deeply to heap such praise on my day-to-day actions. It wasn't until he said 'Staff Member of the Year' that I realized what was happening. It is truly humbling to be chosen from among so many others who deserve the honor."

Written by Cameron Billings

Cameron Billings is the Assistant Director of Written Content in University Communications at Dallas Baptist University.