BU Celebrates Best Student Employees and Supervisor
Winners honored at annual ceremony April 10
With Boston being the country’s third most expensive metro area, Christina Matta (Sargent’23, SPH’24) made some spending money for three years as an office assistant in BU’s mathematics and statistics department. Though requiring her to juggle work and classes, the job “has definitely helped in being able to afford to have fun and explore all that Boston has to offer,” she says.
It’s what she’s given to the department in return for that paycheck that earned her this year’s Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year award.
Amid turnover the last two summers, “Christina took on responsibilities that would normally be handled by her supervisor”—including training her own new supervisors, wrote Jiana Capone, the department’s administrative coordinator, in nominating Matta for the award. During the department’s move to the Center for Computing & Data Sciences, Capone wrote, “Christina was the only student employee who came in during [last Christmas] break to help us out with the administrative tasks, which allowed the staff to focus on getting the department settled before the first day of classes.”
Matta was recognized at a ceremony April 10 along with two other honorees: Graduate Student Employee of the Year Christie Ngo (SPH’23) and student employee Supervisor of the Year Mary Martins, assistant director of residential leasing for BU Real Estate.
These are busy people. Matta combines her studies and job with an internship at Boston Medical Center, BU’s primary teaching hospital, assisting autism specialists. “The secret to juggling everything is to plan and manage your time well,” she advises. “Buy a planner or use something else to keep track of when all of your assignments are due, make note of what assignments you want to tackle on which days—you probably won’t finish them all when you want to, but it’s the thought that counts—and create time to do fun things throughout the week, like hanging out with friends, to keep you going.”
Ngo is a data analyst at the New England Public Health Training Center, which is based at BU’s School of Public Health and trains public health workers throughout New England. “With public health being such a practice-based field, it was important for me to complement my academic studies with real-world experience,” she says of her decision to take the job. “I’m grateful to have worked with amazing supervisors who have encouraged my goals and advocated for my success.”
Adjusting to student life, a new environment, studying, and working present a lot of challenges.
She volunteered to combine her regular duties this past year with a special project for Vermont’s government, analyzing chronic disease among the state’s residents of color, wrote her senior program manager and award nominator, Karla Todd Barrett: “This highly motivated commitment allowed Christie’s analysis to have an impact that will touch real Vermonters lives. Christie’s quality data analysis, as well as the broader attributes of excellent communication and attitude of collaboration and flexibility, were essential for allowing [us] to meet the demanding and difficult performance reporting deadlines.”
(Even with classes, jobs, an internship, and work as an SPH ambassador connecting with prospective students, Ngo finds time for the outdoors, spin class, and reading, she says, “prioritizing my mental and physical health.”)
Martins, a 13-year BU employee, says she approaches her student workers with the understanding “that this is most likely the first time these young adults/students have been living away from home, and in many cases, away from their native countries.
“Adjusting to student life, a new environment, studying, and working present a lot of challenges. I believe in not only helping them in the work environment, but also assisting in the day-to-day challenges they encounter. Support and mentoring can be rewarding for the student as well as the workplace. If my child were in a similar environment, I would hope that someone would offer to do the same.”
Her efforts do not go unappreciated. An anonymous student who nominated her for the Supervisor of the Year award, describing themselves as low-income and struggling to afford college, wrote that Martins in 2021 “willingly offered a shelter to live for the entire summer, at no expense. As a consequence, I saved anywhere from $3,000-8,000 in housing costs that I can now allocate toward my Boston University tuition and fees, as well as basic living expenses.”
Then, when the student’s work-study funding ran out, despite working part-time for two University departments, “I grew anxious about whether I could continue employment and my stay in Boston.” Martins advocated for her department to hire the student for summer 2021 and into that fall.
“I proudly remain an employee today,” the student wrote.
Also honored at Monday’s ceremony: Daniel Kirsch (CAMED’24), who received this year’s Graduate Outstanding Service Award; Kenya St. Fleur (Questrom’23), who received this year’s Undergraduate Outstanding Service Award; and Monica Wang, SPH associate professor of community health sciences, who was named Supervisor of the Year runner-up.
A panel of staff and faculty representing departments across BU selects the Student Employees of the Year, who each receive $300 and a plaque. A panel of student employees selects the Supervisor of the Year.