Hard work and dedication for a job well done was honored April 14 at the 2010 Work-Study of the Year Awards Luncheon at The University of Texas-Pan American during National Student Employment Week.
The Student Financial Services and Career Services Office hosted the luncheon to recognize 23 student nominees who have gone above and beyond their duties at work. Each candidate was nominated by their department supervisor based on their reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism, contributions to their department, academic achievement and community involvement.
"You should be proud that you have the opportunity of being a work-study and building credentials for your resume and your future," Dr. Calvin Phillips, associate vice president and dean of students, told those in attendance at the luncheon. "Live in the moment and discover your hopes, dreams and what motivates you and set the foundation for tomorrow."
From the nominees, a committee selected the top three candidates. Each was awarded a scholarship of $300, $150 or $75. Winners were announced at the luncheon. First place honors and Work-study of the Year went to Gloria Silva from the Learning Assistant Center, second place was Benjamin Fuentes, an employee at the Student Union and third place was Angie Becerra, Student Financial Services.
"I am so happy that I have won, it was a big surprise and the scholarship is going to be a big help for summer classes or a master's program" said Silva. "Being a work-study I have learned a lot from my supervisors, they have become my mentors."
Students in the program also had the opportunity of nominating their supervisors for Work-Study Supervisor of the Year. For 2010, the award went to Elda Arriaga, student financial aid officer for Student Financial Services.
In addition, Student Financial Services selected Aura Cazares, director of UTPA Undergraduate Recruitment as the 2010 Success Profile. According to Nicole Luna, UTPA work-study coordinator, the Success Profile goes to someone who participated in the program while attending college and now serves as a role model for current work-studies.
"Receiving this recognition was very unexpected. I just started working here 10 months ago, so for someone to notice my work in such a short time is humbling," Cazares said. "I see this as an opportunity to encourage students who work and go to school. I want to be able to give students tips in terms of work ethic and let them know that with the right attitude they can learn many useful skills."
For more than 10 years, Student Financial Services has honored current students and staff. In the past three years, Career Services has joined in the recognition efforts, also honoring The Student Employee of the Year. The Student Employee of the Year works off campus in a variety of service industries, such as retail, recreation and clerical.
"A good majority of our students here at UTPA work off campus," said Lourdes Servantes, interim director for Career Services. "We want to shine light on these students who are managing their school work while working off campus and are doing a wonderful job of representing the quality of student we have here at UTPA."
Reina Pantoja, U.S. Attorney's Office; Heather Arevalo, KRGV TV News department; and Bertha Crystal Cavazos, The Club at Cimarron, were recognized as the 2010 Student Employee of the Year nominees. Later in the month one of these students will be named Student Employee of the Year and will receive a congratulatory party at their job location.
Luna believes that recognizing students for their work is a way of letting them know that they are appreciated.
"Work-studies are the backbone in the office," Luna said. "They do a lot more than people give them credit for. So by honoring them we hope to motivate their continued success at work and academically."
During this week of National Student Employment Week, Luna said she encourages departments to do a little something for their student workers as a thank you for their many contributions.