Student Employment Recognizes Student Employees, Team of the Year

The Student Employment Program in the Office of Financial Aid celebrated National Student Employee Week (NSEW) in conjunction with the National Student Employment Association (NSEA). This week focuses on the invaluable services students provide both on and off campus. "We would like to recognize and thank our more than 700 student employees who are working while attending college, as well as gaining meaningful career-related experiences,” said Betsye Stinson, Student Employment (SE) coordinator.

This has been an unprecedented two years during the COVID-19. "Although no award was extended last year, we are continuing to pay tribute to our students for being flexible to safely work in-person and having a willing spirit to learn new skills to temporarily work remotely," said Rebecca Rodgers, Student Employment associate. "It truly was a team effort pulling together these new opportunities and meaningful real-life experiences during a pandemic."

“We also like to commend the SE supervisors and the departments for being creative in making work experiences momentarily go virtually to allow our students on the main campus to work, learn, and earn a paycheck,” said Stinson.

This year during NSEW, NSEA hosted the National Student Employee of the Year (SEOTY) competition. Eligible student employee nominees must be undergraduate, employed in the department for at least six months, maintain at least a 3.0 GPA, and can be either a Federal Work-Study or Institutional Work-Study student employee. The Webster campus celebration will recognize both graduate and undergraduate student employees. However, only undergraduate students were eligible for National recognition.

Webster University’s Students of the Year

Webster University has selected Elliot Laurence, Ridge Bickel and Nina Bright as Webster University’s Students of the Year. The students will receive a certificate and theme gift basket based on their interests. Laurence has been submitted to the Regional Association to Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators to compete at the regional level. Read below for more about each of these students' contributions.

Elliot Laurence

Laurence, a graduating senior and an Undergraduate Writing Coach, was nominated by Kristin Cobos and the entire Reeg Academic Resource Center team. He is sought after by his peers because of his feedback and promptness in response. The Writing Coach mentors graduate and undergraduate students with their papers and other writing matters, writes writing tips handouts, receive ongoing training, connects students to resources, performs administrative tasks, and is also a part of the Welcome Desk Team. These are just a few of Laurence’s daily tasks states Kristin Cobos, Writing and Online Writing Center Coordinator. “He is a supervisor’s dream! He is trustworthy, dependable, and loyal,” emphasizes Cobos.

This passion also shows up in Laurence’s academics, while maintaining a high grade-point average, and making the Dean’s List twice. The English major is also working towards a certificate in Digital Media and Design Production, as well as gathering additional work experience by teaching

Creative Writing in the Continuing Education Program at St. Louis Community College-Meramec and works with children at the YMCA. Laurence is “always willing to go above and beyond to help others. He is never limited by his ‘job description,’” agrees Cobos.

As an Air Force Reservist, Laurence has also presented on his own experience with the Transgender Military Ban at the 6th Annual Transgender Spectrum Conference at Washington University. Equally, he provided his voice and perspective in the Reeg Academic Resource Center in Spring 2020 to discuss the appropriateness of having a Black Lives Matter sign in the space. It is this type of “…open-mindedness, calm demeanor, and sense of humor [that gives] him an ability to interact with a diverse student population.”

There are so many ways Laurence has shown compassion and leadership. As a Student Employee, he is a role model to new employees and peers he tutors. His use of communication is professional and done respectfully. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he has helped students with more than writing, assisting them with technology and accessibilities issues. He has safely provided in-person support during remote operations when needed. This further illustrates how the published print writer and online influencer connects students to the right resources.

Ridge Bickel

Bickel is a junior, majoring in audio in media arts, while pursuing a minor in music. He was nominated by Martha Davis-Goldstein, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator in the Office of the Dean for the School of Communications. Bickel performs administrative duties, maintains databases, supports on the ground and virtual events, manages multiple social media initiatives, and assists in editing the website.

Since the pandemic, student staff have been able to work remotely, showcasing the importance of verbal and nonverbal communications via Teams to discuss and collaborate on projects. “His excellent writing and editing skills are immensely helpful when he develops captions and copy for social media posts and website content,” says Davis-Goldstein. “I can completely rely on Ridge's ability to compose and draft high-level content to be used on all of our platforms.”

Bickel is resourceful when he encounters a challenge. Whether it is researching continuous learning tools to identifying correct technical procedures to determining the best platform to showcase students’ work, Ridge is results-oriented and a vital team player with the School of Communications.

This meaningful student employment experience has equipped Bickel with valuable skills to be used in his future career. While accomplishing numerous tasks in the office, Bickel also manages his academics, works two part-time jobs, and is active in his church youth group. “With his positive "can do" attitude he has contributed to our team working together better than ever to accomplish school-wide goals,” believes his sponsor.

Nina Bright

Bright was nominated by the Human Resources and Payroll Department. She assists with all the members of the Department in every aspect providing quick responses to emails. Bright follows up with any issues and makes modifications. Likewise, she also mentors’ student employees by training her peers and coordinating with the other student worker on best practices.

These skills were specifically shown when she took the initiative with the training mailbox project. Bright used her problem-solving skills coupled with her digital technology to organize organizational charts in Microsoft SharePoint. This allowed all Human Resources members to assess equally and easily accessible the software while keeping it people focused. Bright “attentively, thoroughly and creatively answered employees’ questions and walked them through various training problems,” asserts Meg Gwyn, Human Resources business partner.

Student Employment Team of the Year

Webster University has also selected Student Employment Team of the Year. Congratulations to Connection Leader coordinators Justin Klos, Liah Neudecker, Kezia Putri and Megan Sander, who were nominated by the Department of First-Year Experience and Undergraduate Persistence. The entire Connection Leader staff are also Certified Peer Educators through the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA). These Connection Leaders serve as friends to students, families, faculty, and professional staff and work in partnership with other many campus departments and personnel. They work collectively to assist students that are in need and utilize their knowledge base to help ensure that no student goes without help. 

The Connection Leader coordinators are the student supervisors for more than 40 Connection Leader employment team members. They are responsible for making sure that the individual Connection Leaders have all the resources needed to complete their peer mentoring roles successfully. The coordinators also have their own list of mentees who they connect with, instrumental in staff development and programming, and the implementation and design of New Student Orientation programming such as Gorlok and Chill Events, Virtual Speed Friending, and other onboarding initiatives for First-Year Students.

“We know that this team nomination is unconventional, but these four individuals have been working in their respective roles since Spring 2020,” said Justin Barton, director of First-Year Experience and Undergraduate Persistence Department, head competitive cheerleading coach, mascot coordinator and the sdvisor of the Webster University Pep Band. “They have worked diligently through COVID-19, have trained and worked with staff virtually, and have successfully connected with students from across the globe. With COVID we have never even met some of our staff in person. These coordinators have helped to hold this team together during these difficult times and have helped countless students feel connected and get connected to university resources.”

These solutions-oriented rock stars are handling problems that arise from remote work and programming to finding solutions to at-risk student issues, confirms Barton. "Our Global Citizens are providing the right resources and personnel, ensuring equitable experiences, and essential retention work for both domestic and international students. They are all highly professional and are often asked to represent Webster University on many panels and within many discussion groups."

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