May 06, 2009 | Matt Decker

The hard-working students of Calvin College were honored on Thursday, April 16.

The hard-working students of Calvin College were honored on Thursday, April 16.

Fourteen student workers were on hand in the DeVos Forum for the Student Employee of the Year celebration organized by student employment manager Karen Hollebeek.

"I am happy with the event this year … The address from President Byker and comments from Professor Quentin Schultze were more directed and personal,” said Hollebeek. “I believe each nominee left the celebration feeling like their accomplishments had been noticed.”

Numbers tell the story

President Gaylen Byker began the event at 3 p.m. by highlighting the importance of students who work on-campus jobs. He told the audience that Calvin College employs approximately 700 full-time employees and about twice that many student workers.

Following the opening address, director of financial services Sam Wanner gave the audience more facts about student employment, including the fact that the college paid out $4,307,770.12 to student workers in 2008. “Students who work since their freshmen year graduate more often with a higher GPA,” said Wanner. He also said that holding a job down on campus while taking classes actually increases a student’s chance of graduating on time. 

Four awards

Next Schultze, a professor of communication arts and sciences, took center stage and introduced this year’s nominees. Four awards were given away: The Creative Dining Services Exceptional Performer Award, the Rookie of the Year, the Outstanding Service Award and the coveted Calvin College Student Employee of the Year Award.

Sophomore Courtney Martin won the Creative Dining Award. Rookie of the Year went to senior Rebecca Garofano, who works in the Service Learning Center. Garofano was recognized in particular for her work planning the 2008 Streetfest, an event for which she organized over 50 agency partners and trained over 50 student leaders.

Senior Devin Byker won the Outstanding Service Award for his work with Community Partnership Coordinators, Calvin students who build community partnerships with local agencies.

The Student Employee of the Year award had seven nominees: junior Nathan Eisen and seniors Michael Mandeville, Jamie Wilbraham, Carolyn Whaite, Amos Garcia, Calvin Brondyke and Sarah Looman. 

The winner

After a period of appropriate build-up by Schultze, the award went to Garcia, an assistant to Rosemary Etter, the director of international admissions. Garcia, who is graduating in May with an international relations major, will stay at Calvin for one more semester to complete his economics minor. He could not recall how long he has been working his current job, saying it dates back to either the fall of 2006 or early 2007.

"I was quite surprised when I found out I was nominated and actually found out when I stumbled upon my nomination profile, while reading the profiles of the other nominees,” he said. Garcia said that he helped develop new ways to process applicants and recruit prospective students. 

"I've learned a lot from this job, but if I had to say just one thing it would be the need to be innovative,” he said. “The process of recruiting and admitting international students has changed drastically over the past few years, and adjusting to those changes quickly and efficiently requires innovation—in the way we write and send our e-mails, move files, process applicants, keep in contact, etc. Rosemary has done a great job in adjusting to the changes, and I'm glad I was able to help along the way.”

Along with his honor, Garcia received a framed certificate from the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators, a $150 gift certificate, a hiking bottle, a spring bag from the Campus Store and a $45 dinner certificate to the Bonefish Grill. He said that he plans to finish his studies in December and work for a couple of years before applying for graduate school: “God willing.”

Amos Garcia, student employee of the year

Recent stories