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Student Employee of the Year

2015-2016 Student Employee of the Year - Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University 2015-2016 Student Employee of the Year

Congratulations to Steven Zhou!

Office of the Chaplain and Center for Faith and Learning

-Nominated by Lauren Leatherberry and Stephanie Cupp

"Pepperdine has become synonymous with academic rigor, hard work, and a commitment to service, purpose, and leadership. The caliber of students we attract here are truly exceptional, bar none. Even still, there are students who rise to the top and demonstrate an extraordinary commitment to the mission of Pepperdine wherever they find themselves, even in their position of student employment. Steven has done exactly that, all the while demonstrating his passion for and commitment to Jesus.

Steven has many talents: He is smart, compassionate, mature, humble yet assertive, organized beyond measure, and can multitask like a machine. However, it's not for these reasons that he deserves the award for Student Employee of the Year. In fact, his greatest attribute is his ability to take initiative and fill in the gaps where others cannot see. In January 2016, Steven launched an 8-week pilot program on his own accord, in partnership with ten different departments, aimed at developing the character of first-year students with hopes the curriculum would prepare them for future leadership opportunities. To say the program was a success would be an understatement."

-Lauren Leatherberry and Stephanie Cupp

Steven's Testimony:

"Steven truly embodies the concept of servant leadership. His perspective and understanding of organizations and their processes is amazing in that he is conscious of shifts needing to be made that will benefit the university as a whole. His service and passion for giving to others is truly admirable and you know that he will be successful in every endeavor."

-Bryce Coefield
Assistant Director of Intercultural Affairs and Student Organizations

"Not everyone has a moment when they feel like they've "figured out" what they want to do in life, but I was one of the lucky ones that did. It happened while I was sitting in the library, preparing for a talk that I was going to deliver at a student club meeting. At one point, I realized that I was consulting several thousand dollars' worth of books and other resources, and admitted, with a slight inwardly sigh, that I'll forever be in higher education. After all, I knew I would never spend that much money to buy those encyclopedias and journals for myself! That moment was one of many this semester working through Student Employment that signified a strong calling towards student affairs and higher education. My two unique projects that I pursued throughout the internship influenced my future plans and career choice by proving, largely to myself, that I did have ideas and skills to contribute to the field of student affairs. First, I was tasked with working with the several other major departments within Student Affairs (housing and residence life, volunteer center, etc.) to intentionally establish more collaborative programming.

As a result of my internship, we've been able to pursue a few joint endeavors such as a shared event calendar, joint Christmas party, and joint leaders' retreat and spring concert. Secondly, I was given the opportunity to chart out and begin a pilot study for a freshmen leadership training program. This was meant to help fill in the void where juniors and seniors receive excellent training but freshmen have no place to go. Through having the freedom of exploring these ideas in depth, I discovered that I did in fact have something to contribute to the field. Since my background is in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, I approached these issues from a social science perspective, allowing me to apply my knowledge of motivation, team building, and more into my work.

"It is my honor, to serve as his supervisor and we could not be more proud of all he have done for this University. Congratulations, Steven! Well done."

-Lauren Leatherberry
Assistant Director, Office of the Chaplain

None of this would have happened without support, which is one of the greatest things for which I am thankful of. Student Employment graciously allowed me the hours to work in Student Affairs. Various professional staff members supported and bought into the idea I had for student leadership training, including Mark Davis, Dr. Connie Horton, Jon Mathis, Sara Barton, and many more. My supervisors, Stephanie Cupp and Lauren Leatherberry, were particularly supportive; they allotted up to half my time to develop these new programs for the department. Their focus was on allowing me to take ownership, which inevitably helped further develop my sense of calling to higher education as a career. It is a huge honor to be selected as the Student Employee of the Year, but I cannot accept this award on my own; it is the many staff members who have supported me along the way that truly deserve the award. Their mentorship, confidence in me, and willingness to take a risk and offer me these freedoms are the true impetus behind this award, and I want to express my thankfulness for those above me first and foremost."


What is Student Employee of the Year?

Every spring, colleges and universities around the country coordinate a selection process to choose one student employee from their campus whose outstanding contributions and achievements through their work set them apart from their peers. The hard work and dedication shown by these students exemplifies how student employment is a high-impact practice that helps to prepare students for success in their future careers and the workplace. Starting with a nomination by the student's supervisor or employer, all applications are accepted and then analyzed by a selection committee. After narrowing down the applications to a final group of five, the committee then votes on who should be the recipient of the "Student Employee of the Year," honor. After a decision is reached, the honor of this award is bestowed upon the chosen student and their work celebrated during National Student Employment Week.


Student Employee of the Year 2016 Top Nominees and Memorable Quotes:

Christopher Gaspari – Nominated by Abrash Khanmalek
IT - Application Development
..."CJ's personality, intelligence, and outgoing willingness to help others definitely has had an impact not only on his peers but also those tasked with mentoring him in the Application Development department. His service attitude coupled with his leadership qualities makes him a unique, outgoing, and well-rounded individual. His heart definitely matches the size of his brain and his vast talents in the area of software development."

Danielle Croner – Nominated by Rachel Hasselbring and Tanya Collings
Financial Assistance
..."Danielle is the absolute picture of serenity and focus, even on her worst day. She is very much the calm in the storm. In her time here, Danielle has made such an imprint on the lives of her coworkers and supervisors. She's been my north star this year - steady and true, dependable, and absolutely immovable. What a blessing she is to all those around her."

Avery Davis – Nominated by Rachel Emily Mead
Center for Sustainability
..."He masters projects quickly due to his keen intellect and carries them out in a precise and error free manner. Avery's consistently positive attitude and air of calm confidence enabled him to comfortably interface with students, alumni, staff, and faculty. He is most interested in connecting sustainability issues to his Christian faith and offers a unique perspective that we can all learn from."

Daniel Suh – Nominated by Kyle Bland
Prospect Research
..."Daniel's greatest attribute is his ability to lead and interact with the other student workers. He provides a very capable conduit whenever I need to talk to the student workers about anything, and he keeps everyone's spirits high. He boosts the morale of the department, staff and students both. Further, Daniel balances his school work, his employment here, and a rich social life to fully display how truly amazing Pepperdine students can be."

Ashley Royal – Nominated by Hilary Squire
Business Administration Division
..."Ashley brings a maturity to the position that is rare among her peers. She seems more like a full-time employee than a student worker. Ashley has taken it upon herself to be the unofficial team leader of our student workers. She goes beyond her own responsibilities to think of them and how they might contribute to a project. We are lucky to have her."

Monica Case – Nominated by Kelsey Knox
..."Monica is committed to the job and very reliable. On top of her work ethic, Monica is as kind as they come. She has been working with us for over a year now and has become a great leader within our department. She is the most knowledgeable of our student workers, and I can trust her to help our other students with tasks that they are not familiar with."

Khalil Gobir – Nominated by Sheila King
Corporate and Foundation Relations
..."Khalil is extremely reliable, consistent, and hard-working. While other students might have difficulty in this position, Khalil's personality and work ethic shine through, and he has been able to make the Communications Coordinator position into his own with very little guidance; we have so enjoyed getting to know him this past year and all his hard work."

Lauren Rice – Nominated by Jeanette Woodburn
..."Lauren is polite, speaks up when she has a question or a thought to contribute, and is comfortable and appropriate at interacting with others. She has provided countless clever ideas for communicating information to students. Lauren truly shines--she's like the human version of a Swiss Army Knife. She is an impressive blend of both fun and professionalism."

Majie Foster – Nominated by Jay Brewster
Natural Science Division
..."Majie has provided Pepperdine students an example of someone who is really focused upon her career goals and cherishes every opportunity to learn. She leads by example. She simply works hard each day and is always ready to help anyone who needs a little extra guidance. I don't think I've ever seen her refuse someone who needed help. She is a unique individual who has been a terrific example for my students."

Makamae Palos – Nominated by Jeannie Ruse
Straus Institute
..."Makamae works hard and takes pride in her work. No job is too big or little for her. She does her best in all that she does and keeps a smile on her face. Makamae is an outstanding young lady who is always a good example to others. We feel that we were truly blessed to have the opportunity to be a part of her professional career."

Taylor Jarvill – Nominated by Jeannie Ruse
Straus Institute
..."With her maturity and ability to see where there is a need and step up to fill in accordingly, Taylor is destined to do great things. She has earned and maintained our trust in her total ability to succeed in everything that she does. She is a true leader and I am proud that she is a member of our team and are sure that she will carry the Pepperdine mission with her wherever she goes in life.."

Arturo Rodriguez – Nominated by Morgan Jefferson
Fine Arts Recruitment Office
..."Arturo has brought a cheerful attitude to the office that's definitely needed during the admissions process. My other students have stepped up their efforts upon seeing Arturo's work ethic. He is constantly going above and beyond what's asked of him, and I'm blown away by someone so young being so industrious. When I'm away, he's the first person that I contact to manage the office. I simply couldn't run the office without him."

Danielle Hager – Nominated by Nancy Lefkowitz
Housing and Residence Life
..."Dani is a "yes" person. No matter the project, Dani will do it with a smile and always with a willingness to serve. Her attributes and she herself will be hard to replace next year. She has made my life easier as the Associate Director of Residence Life. Dani truly does it all and we are grateful for her exceptional service! I hope that we can recognize and celebrate her hard work ethic and her focus to serve on a larger level with this award."

Kristin Causey – Nominated by Chris Retts and Suzan Ton
Religion and Social Science Division
..."Having been with us for several years, Kristin has become a leader in our office. We've even had her train several new office clerks -- a task she completed with her typical friendliness, giving newcomers a great introduction to our office. We'll be sorry to lose Kristin but we know her impact extends far beyond our office and even Pepperdine."

Kailey Schaneberg – Nominated by Karl Kalinkewicz
International Programs
..."Her commitment to the mission of our office, her flexibility as we both were adapting to the launching of brand new pilot programs, the sense of responsibility Kailey took on to make sure these programs were the best they could be, all of these attributes pale in comparison to Kailey's positive attitude, her genuine kindness and care for those she works with, her ability to think creatively about how we can meet the needs of the students we serve, and how to do everything with purpose and intentionality."

Heather Holden – Nominated by Marla Pontrelli
Seaver College Career Center
..."I believe Heather fully embodies what we originally envisioned for the title of "Career Ambassador": a representative of the department and University who leads and allies with her peers to fortify their professional endeavors; an individual who is full of determination and perseveres amidst distinct challenges; a leader who takes initiative and remains loyal to her team and their cause; a member of a community who constantly seeks opportunity to breed good will with others and achieves long-term impact."

Jenna Walsh – Nominated by Hiroo Kato
GSEP Education (Dr. Hamilton Grant Work)
..."Jenna's initiative, work ethic and continued output with minimal input has injected new life into this community in ways that she does not yet know. In essence, she is pushing the boundaries of the status quo. She has set a high bar for how quickly data can be processed so that it can be used for analysis and more. This has had a tremendous impact on the speed by the research progresses, enabling real-time changes and tweaks to the research processes which helps with the many conference submissions that we make."

Clarissa Ng – Nominated by Danah Sanders
Fine Arts Division
..."Clarissa can come along side our students and give them that extra needed support to get them caught up, encourage them, take a project off their plate and help them get settled and working as quickly as possible. With a growing body of student workers, to have a student mentor like Clarissa makes all the difference in the world!"

Leslie Vasquez – Nominated by Dawn Henderson
GSEP Administration
..."Leslie is patient and compassionate, she always goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide clear communication and updates to her status for any duty assigned. She is supportive, proactive and often used as an example for other student employees. I couldn't do my job without Leslie! She has such a huge impact on our department and we are so excited to have her serving as part of the team."


Congratulations to all of our nominees and amazing student employees!


Waves in the Workplace Blog