A “pillar in the athletics department” and a “friend who changes student lives for the better” were the respective recipients of the 2015 Student Employee and Work-Study Supervisor of the Year awards at the Student Employment Awards Luncheon April 15.
Senior psychology major Connor Delavak and Co-Curricular Transcript Coordinator and Community Service Coordinator Valerie Webster were selected by two separate panels of judges.
Delavak, nominated for the award by Jeff Bray, associate director of athletics and head athletic trainer, has worked as a student athletic trainer for four years, and the longer Bray has been at Keuka College, the more increasingly selective he has become of those he chooses to hire as his work-study students.
In 23 years of supervising student employees, Bray says senior Delavak ranks in his top five, touting his demeanor and sincerity for setting him apart. In fact, Bray says Delavak has become a pillar within the athletics department.
“He has a tremendous grasp on what is expected of him and the role he plays within our department,” said Bray, adding Delavak is part of the fabric of the athletic training staff and the athletic department. “It has gotten to the point that when we are scheduled to depart for a weekend road trip, I simply ask him if we are ‘all set’ and he replies with a very confident ‘yes sir.’ He truly cares about the job that he does and it shows every time he works.”
And Bray does not hesitate to say that Delavak is a “tremendous asset” to the athletics department.
“I believe there is added responsibility that comes with that,” said Bray. “Connor has always represented himself, our department, and Keuka College in a positive and professional manner. In fact, there are times that our coaches forget that he is a student and not a full time staff member.”
Added Bray: “I think we often take for granted the importance and the impact our student employees have on our campus. With Connor, he is a respected member of my staff. I feel fortunate to have played a small role in his collegiate experience.”
The other student nominees were Tyler Redington, Brittany Kuhn, Ethan Eschler, Savannah Fuller, Courtney Nojeim, Sini Ngobese, and Zach Ward.
“All of our student employees are winners, but the eight nominees are the cream of the crop,” said Sally Daggett, human resources manager. “I thank all of the nominators who took time to nominate your student employee. It sends a powerful message to those students, as it tells of the importance of them in your lives.”
Webster was one of five work-study supervisors nominated for the award. She was nominated by occupational science major Savannah Fuller.
In the three years senior Fuller has worked in the Community Service Resource Office as a Community Service Advocate, she said Webster has pushed her to think outside of the box and find new ways to reach out to others.
“Upon accepting this job three years ago to help pay for college, I had no idea the true wealth I would gain from Valerie,” said Fuller. “Over this time we have established a strong working relationship, and she is a phenomenal work-study supervisor.”
That’s because Webster “provides each of us with appropriate guidance and leadership to help us grow and be successfully independent in our roles as a work-study students,” said Fuller. “No matter what challenges life presents Valerie with, she always given her work-study students 100 percent.”
After commencement, Fuller believes that the friendship she and Webster share, as well as the dedication to each of their communities, will last beyond her work-study position and long after her graduation from Keuka College.
Added Fuller: “The impact Valerie has had on my life, and the lives of countless other students, is invaluable and transcendent. Valerie has a way of changing student’s lives for the better. It has been an honor to work with her.”
The other supervisor nominees were John Boccacino (sports information director), Rachel Dewey (communications specialist), Carol Sackett (library circulation supervisor), and Xong Sony Yang (international student advisor).
“It is an honor for me to talk to you at this luncheon, as it is one of my favorite events of the year,” said Jim Blackburn, vice president of student development. “The work student employees perform is immeasurable. Keuka College employees 511 students in 814 jobs. That is the equivalent of 150,000 hours of work per year—enough for 134 additional full-time positions. So, Keuka College students do a massive amount of work.”
Each of the nominees was recognized at the luncheon by his or her nominator and presented with a gift. The names of the student and supervisor award recipients will be added to two separate plaques housed in the Center for Experiential Learning. The Student Employee of the Year plaque is hung up in the winner’s work-study location until the following year’s awards luncheon.
More photos from the 2015 Student Employee of the Year Luncheon can be found here.
Editor’s Note: This is the eighth in a series of profiles of 2015 Student Employee of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Wednesday, April 15.
A DRIVE student peer mentor’s primary role is to serve as a mentor and support individuals with developmental disabilities as they assimilate to the Keuka College environment and explore their personal goals for the future.
And according to Laurie Mault, who works in the DRIVE Peer Mentor Program, junior Zachary Ward takes his role as a DRIVE student peer mentor seriously.
Ward, an education major from LeRoy, “is ready, willing, and consistently strives to do his best,” said Mault. “One of his many strengths includes being able to work with several individuals with varying disability at one time, while staying focused on the point at hand.”
Another of Ward’s strengths is treating the DRIVE students with the respect that they deserve, added Mault.
“This is not always easy, as many of them don’t understand what respect is—and we unfortunately don’t always get respect in return,” said Mault. “Zach has a clear understanding of this and continues to treat them with compassion.”
According to Mault, Ward comes up with ideas for different, unique ways to put the needs of the students first. Sometimes, she said, the DRIVE peer mentors need to become very creative to be able to suit each of our individuals’ needs, and Ward is able to complete this task.
“He is always one step ahead and works with the individuals, and checks for understanding to make sure that they know what to do. He comes dressed for the part, and is a fantastic mentor for our DRIVE students,” said Mault. “Zach speaks to the students in a professional manner but also is sure they understand by asking questions based on the current topic.”
And Mault believes that is something that gives Ward an advantage, as he is a college student himself.
“This allows him to connect to our students on a different level,” she said. “He understands more of what their ‘college’ needs are. Zachary always strives to do his best and is consistently looking for ways to help the DRIVE students become better, like teaching them how to socialize on a better level with other college students. He has even introduced them into his ‘friend circle.’ Zach and his friends treat our individuals as equals.”
Which is what the role of a DRIVE student peer mentor is all about.
Editor’s Note: This is the seventh in a series of profiles of 2015 Student Employee of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Wednesday, April 15.
According to Sports Information Director John Boccacino, senior Tyler Redington is one of the best student-workers he has worked with.
But that wasn’t always the case.
“During his sophomore year at Keuka College, Tyler found himself in trouble with the College and was suspended from school for the second semester,” said Boccacino. “He was in the middle of completing his Field Period™ with me when the suspension occurred. Needless to say, I was highly disappointed that Tyler’s actions had earned him a suspension.”
But when the management major from Tully returned to campus, he sat with Boccacino “vowing to recommit himself to his studies and his job. Since then, he has completely transformed himself and the results have been nothing short of remarkable,” said Boccacino.
When Redington returned to campus, he not only completed his Field Period™ with sports information, he applied—and was accepted—to become a paid member of Boccacino’s staff last spring.
This fall, Redington returned to Boccacino’s office, “wanting to learn as much as he could about sports information, and how he could have a future in this profession,” said Boccacino. “So I began challenging Tyler to get the most out of his experiences, and this year, he has really responded.”
One of the ways Redington responded to the challenge has been serving as the acting sports information director during home games when Boccacino could not be there, either due to multiple events occurring simultaneously, or previous off-campus engagements.
“Tyler did a tremendous job of keeping stats, promoting the games on social media, handling public address announcer duties, and running the press box like you would see at a professional sports game,” said Boccacino.
In addition to handling his usual duties, Boccacino said Redington also ran the basketball scorebook during this season’s home games, a difficult task that requires a high-level of attention to detail.
“The scorebook is the place of record should there be a dispute over the game score, the number of fouls called on a team or individual, and the number of timeouts remaining,” said Boccacino. “Tyler handles conflicts between the referees and both coaches, and on several occasions this winter, he not only helped resolve the conflict, he conducted himself with class and professionalism.”
Redington is “always” looking for ways to improve, and this winter and spring, he has and will be doing more writing for Boccacino.
“It is not easy to learn how to effectively write game recaps that positively promote Keuka’s student-athletes and teams,” added Boccacino, “and yet, Tyler has shown a knack for this skill. He has a bright future in whatever field he chooses, and through his hard work and dedication, he has been a tremendous asset to Keuka College, to its athletics department, and to our sports information shop.”
Editor’s Note: This is the sixth in a series of profiles of 2015 Student Employee of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Wednesday, April 15.
As a circulation desk assistant Courtney Nojeim, a junior childhood education major from Churchville, needs to be well versed in all aspects of Lightner Library’s operation.
According to Carol Sackett, circulation supervisor, Nojeim, who has worked in the library for two years, is not only well versed, but is quick to lend a hand when requested and astute enough to offer to explain things to students who are unfamiliar with the library.
“She is a trusted worker who knows how to use our computer system, and is adept at finding areas of materials for student research,” said Sackett. “She can easily show students how to look up information that is pertinent to their subject area. She makes herself available, does an excellent job helping behind the circulation desk, is confident in her work, and takes pleasure assisting any students when needed.”
For example, Sackett has watched her interact with the international students, “and she has a gentle but persuasive way about her, which makes them comfortable.”
“Courtney also works well with our DRIVE students, often showing them how to do things or where to locate materials,” said Sackett.
Nojeim often responds to requests for substitutes at a moment’s notice, and cheerfully follows through to completion all aspects of her job, added Sackett, who appreciates Nojeim’s knowledge of the inner workings of her position in the library.
This is especially helpful at the beginning of each semester, when Sackett admits she is overloaded. But she knows that she can count on Nojeim, particularly when it comes time to train new student workers.
“I always rely on Courtney’s strengths at the beginning of the new school year until things settle down for me,” said Sackett. “Courtney is a leader in assisting me in many areas and acts as my right hand worker. I can always count on her to fill in when there is a snag. She is very professional, both in appearance and her mannerisms. They reflect the embodiment of one who is cognizant of her demeanor.”
Sackett adds that Nojeim adapts to change easily.
“In our line of work, there is always something changing, or a new edition of something being used,” said Sackett. “Courtney is a leader in helping make the new process easier for all of the workers.”
Added Sackett: “You can always count on her to take charge and keep things running smoothly. She is a mentor to all of the workers and is a definite team player. She has proven herself to be an invaluable addition to my student workers, and I am completely satisfied that the library is in good hands during her work time.”
Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of profiles of 2015 Student Employee of the Year nominees. The winner will be announced at a luncheon Wednesday, April 15.
Senior management major Sini Ngobese has demonstrated incredible dedication and reliability to her role in the Center for Spiritual Life (CSL) from her first day on the job, according to Chaplain Rev. Eric Detar.
“Sini, along with other student leaders, has been instrumental in the restructuring of the Center for Spiritual Life,” said Detar. “We now have four student directors responsible for the programming of eight spiritual paths. Sini directs the spiritual pathways of Intellectual Inquiry and Social Action for the CSL.”
Detar praised the Durban, South Africa resident for going “above and beyond what is required, and she has transitioned from an office assistant to a student director seamlessly. I know I can rely upon her to lead a program or a meeting in my absence, even on short notice.”
One of those programs, “Life’s Big Questions.” was one she started. For the first event, Ngobese selected the topic, ‘What Happens When we Die?’
“She spoke to various members of different religions to represent their belief system in the conversation,” said Detar. “Due to her initiative, planning and execution of the program, it was educational and fun.”
Detar believes Ngobese’s success is that she “isn’t simply working on developing skills to be a professional—she is a professional,” he said. “Sini is prompt with her attendance, professional in her attire, communicates with persons on and off campus very well, is organized, and extremely task oriented. She always takes on whatever challenge is presented, but isn’t afraid to ask for assistance.
Part of that professionalism, Detar said, is that Ngobese is thinking about the future of the CSL.
“Sini recently suggested we develop a marketing plan and strategy for the CSL,” he said. “This strategy will provide a consistent plan for the marketing and advertising of programs in our office. She has an invested interest in [the success of the CSL] and wants it to thrive even when she no longer works here.”
Detar said Ngobese has been an exemplary employee, demonstrating commitment, vision, and professionalism.
“She is incredibly hard working and is a model student, worker, and leader,” said Detar. She is a huge reason why this office has experienced positive feedback and success. While there are many fantastic and worthy student workers on our campus, I believe Sini rises to the top as someone to be celebrated and honored.”
Detar said it is hard for him to put into words the respect he has for Ngobese and the impact she has had on the CSL.
“I truly value her input and I frequently run ideas and thoughts by her to get her opinion before we go forward,” he added. “I cannot think of another student that would add more value to their office than Sini. While the void will be difficult to fill upon Sini’s graduation, she will be an amazing ambassador of this College wherever she goes.”