Though having a full course load and a job is daunting for most people, three UC Davis students have taken the challenge in stride. In fact, their supervisors say these students have excelled.
Jacob Mauney, Huy Nguyen and Melisa De Leon each received the “Student Employee of the Year Award” at a ceremony Friday afternoon at the Memorial Union.
Last month, a committee of two employers, two UC Davis Student Employment Center staff members and one student chose the winners from a pool of 37 students nominated by their employers.
Each winner was recognized for a specific achievement: Mauney, who works UC Davis Distribution Services & Material Management (the Mail Division), for exemplifying the Principles of Community; Nguyen, a business systems analyst for UC Davis InnovationAccess, for contributing to UC Davis; and De Leon, a site coordinator for Davis Bridge, for contributing to the community.
Despite the unique thematic awards, the committee judged all winners by the same standards, said UC Davis Work-Study coordinator Ami Tripp.
“They were chosen on the criteria of reliability, quality of work, initiative, disposition and contribution to employer,” she said.
Mauney, who has worked for the Mail Division for two years, has been involved in the unit’s sustainability program by leading the toner recycling program said his supervisor Jennifer Lawrence. In addition, he has assisted with bulk mail, special services (such as for commencements) and has helped the UC Davis communications office with the quarterly UC Davis Magazine, she said.
“He’s a real team player. He’ll make special trips out to the campus to deliver storehouse items,” said Lawrence, the manager of the Materiel Management Office. “He helps other students who come in as well; he shows them the ropes and trains them throughout our processes.”
Nguyen conducts research analysis for InnovationAccess, a unit of the Office of Research. InnovationAccess is a specialized group of 20 Ph.Ds, MBAs and JDs who focus on “protecting and commercializing” university intellectual property, according to its official site.
Mona Ellerbrock, director of InnovationAccess, said though there are many intelligent people on campus, Nguyen’s “rich combination of qualities and skills” make him an “exceptional contributor.”
“[Nguyen] is innovative and creative in finding solutions to complex work problems, he is open-minded to new approaches and new ways of looking at old information, he is courteous and professional and finds joy in his work and he passes this joy to others within the office,” said Ellerbrock in an e-mail interview.
De Leon supervises 27 UC Davis students in the Davis Bridge program, a tutoring program for the Davis Joint Unified School District. The Davis Bridge program began five years ago, and De Leon was one of the first tutors, Tripp said. Though her supervisor, executive director Janet Boulware, could not be reached before press time, Tripp said Boulware praised De Leon for her enthusiasm.
“[De Leon] had a charming way about her that made even math fun. She would participate in home visits and was always available to teachers, staff and parents,” wrote Boulware on De Leon’s nomination form.
The National Student Employment Association recognizes the second full week of April as Student Employment Week, and this is the second year UC Davis has participated in the program, Tripp said. UC Davis’ participation was made possible by a $1,000 donation from Vector Marketing, she said.
Though they have already won plaques and a $100 gift certificate to the UC Davis Bookstore, the three winners will move on to a West Coast regional competition and could ultimately compete in the national competition for a cash prize, Tripp said.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Fred Wood was the keynote speaker for Friday’s ceremony. In an e-mail interview after the event, he said he wanted to participate to highlight the importance of student employees to the campus and community. In fact, he said, over 2,500 students work for UC Davis Student Affairs alone.
“Student employees obviously play a critical role in delivering services, but they also enrich those services by providing a student perspective,” he said. “In addition, students gain life learning skills for the future, such as time-management skills, leadership skills, communication skills, and they learn the importance of teamwork and integrity, just to name a few.”
Wood was a student employee himself, as he worked in a chemistry stockroom. In addition to supporting his education and learning practical laboratory skills, he said being a student employee has other advantages.
“I found that working on campus had a number of benefits which included flexible schedules, short “commute times” and the advantage of working for an employer who understood that my studies and education needed to be a high priority,” he said.
While student employees have much to gain from practical experience, supervisors and co-workers should recognize students’ contributions, Wood said.
“The supervisors and coworkers of these students, both on- and off-campus, have also benefited in many ways and it is only appropriate to recognize their hard work and dedication. I was honored to speak at this event [Friday],” he said.
PATRICK McCARTNEY can be reached at email@example.com.