Student Employees, Supervisors Honored
Excelling in and out of the classroom
There are more than 10,000 student employees at Boston University’s many schools, colleges, and departments. They are the tutors, organizers, greeters, and administrators who keep the campus gears grinding. Two of those 10,000 have been named Student Employees of the Year, and they were honored at an awards reception last night.
Christina Coffey (CAS’13), Undergraduate Employee of the Year, balances studies in international relations and Russian. She also thrives in her position as an event assistant at the Fitness & Recreation Center, where she handles things ranging from administrative work to running birthday parties for kids to organizing charity events. It gets hectic, she says, but knowing that she’s helping people with their causes is a wonderful payoff.
“Events at FitRec have put me in a sort of unique position,” says Coffey, who has held the job for three years. “I work closely with other members of the Boston University community, and also with those who otherwise would not have been able to take advantage of everything BU has to offer.”
Joe Rouse, FitRec assistant facilities manager, nominated Coffey for the award, he says, hoping that her dedication would get the recognition it deserves. Rouse says that dedication was particularly evident when a coworker was out on maternity leave, and Coffey picked up the slack.
“Christina really became the gatekeeper for groups wanting to rent space at FitRec,” Rouse says. “Whether it was a student group, a BU department, a community member, a church group, Christina was often the first point of contact. I don’t know how I would have gotten through those months without her.”
BU’s Graduate Employee of the Year is Brian Honeyman (MED’15), who tutors students at the School of Medicine while pursuing a PhD in the molecular biology of breast cancer.
“Brian is one of the best tutors I’ve ever had,” says Karen Symes, MED assistant dean of student affairs and an associate professor of biochemistry, who nominated Honeyman. “I have relied on him heavily over the last four years. In addition to guiding students in the course content, he helps students see that they can achieve their goals, building their confidence and allowing their success.”
Honeyman, who has been tutoring since 2008, sees a twofold benefit to his position. “It’s been rewarding to work with other MED students and see the lightbulb go off in their head when things start to click,” he says. “It’s also helped keep me up-to-date on the material and medical knowledge.”
Each January and February, supervisors nominate one of their student employees for the award, based on the student’s reliability, initiative, quality of work, leadership skills, and his or her impact on the department. Staff members from the Student Employment Office (SEO) select the top nominations and pass them to a five-judge panel of staff from across the University, which chooses the winners. Two students are also chosen to receive an Outstanding Service award. This year’s winners are Brian Saindon (SPH’14), graduate assistant for aquatics at Physical Education, Recreation & Dance (PERD), and Devan Dumas (SAR’14), PERD pro shop supervisor.
Last year, SEO, which has sponsored the awards since 1989, started naming a Student Supervisor of the Year as well, honoring full-time staff members who go the extra mile mentoring student employees. Leah McDermott, who has worked as a senior staff coordinator at the Admissions office since 2011, is this year’s winner. She oversees about 24 student admissions representatives, who are trained to greet visiting families, provide tours, make reservations, and as McDermott puts it, act as the center’s “frontline customer service.”
“Nobody ever said that you have to be friends with your boss, but my students really love to get to know me and I love to get to know them, and we really enjoy working together,” says McDermott, who got “a little teary” learning that her students had nominated her. “I’m always looking forward to hearing new stories that they have from around campus, or their plans for the summer or going abroad. There’s just so much life and energy around here.”
McDermott recognizes the impact her position as supervisor has on the University as a whole. “My students in particular affect such a wide variety of people,” she says. “For some people, they are the first contact at BU, so to feel that I may be teaching them or that the support I give them helps them in some way—I think that’s huge.”
Emily Concannon (SED’15), senior program coordinator at the School of Management Graduate Admissions Office, was also honored at last night’s reception. She hires, trains, and supervises the undergraduates who assist with administrative tasks and processing the bulk of applications. Concannon, who has been at BU for two and a half years, says that working with students is the highlight of her job, because they are the “heart and soul of the office.” She makes it a point to acknowledge their hard work—and in fun and quirky ways.
“Our ugly sweater holiday party and gingerbread man decorating competition stands out as a special occasion where we could relax and bond together as a team,” she says. “We try to keep things exciting with coffee and donuts during finals week or field trips for frozen yogurt on a slower afternoon. They work so hard and balance so much that we try to ensure that they feel appreciated.”
That appreciation culminated at the Castle reception, with the winners receiving a plaque and all nominees receiving a certificate and a speech recognizing the winners’ commitment to their work on campus. In addition, Coffey and Honeyman received a cash prize of $300 and Saindon and Dumas were given cash prizes of $100.
“I put a lot of effort into what I do, and it’s been a crazy and very busy year,” says Coffey. “To be acknowledged and appreciated for something I put a lot of effort into and really care a lot about is fantastic.”
Tom Vellner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments