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Student Employee of the Year

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, all applications are accepted and then analyzed by a selection committee. The committee then decides who should be the recipient of the Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year, Graduate student Employee of the Year, Excellence in Service, Excellence in Leadership, and Excellence In Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Justice. After a decision is reached, the honor of these awards are bestowed upon the chosen students and their work is celebrated during National Student Employment Week. The Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year will also move onto the National Student Employment Association (NSEA's) selection process for a chance to be named Sate, Regional, or the National Student Employee of the Year.



Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year: Derek Pinto

Department: Jumpstart
Job Title: Team Leader and Intern
Major: Sports Medicine
Career Choice: Physician Assistant

"I work with so many great, like-minded individuals with the same goal of combatting the education gap as well as working with classrooms full of fun and energetic children. The people I've worked with, sessions created, and experience gained have all been super amazing these past 3 years with Jumpstart and I wouldn't change it for anything." - Derek Pinto

"Derek Pinto is a standout student leader. This is Derek's third year working with Jumpstart and his second year in leadership. Derek has been a pillar of the Jumpstart program these past two years serving as a team leader and intern. As his supervisor, I know I can count on Derek to get his job done, and then ask what else he can support with to make Jumpstart a success. Derek consistently takes on additional work, shows initiative, and goes above and beyond for the mission of Jumpstart which he is deeply committed to." - Jumpstart


Graduate Student Employee of the Year: Sepideh Agahi

Department: PGBS Student Engagement & Success - Clinics
Job Title: Graduate Assistant
Major: Master of Psychology
Career Choice: Psychologist and Therapist

"My favorite part about my job is learning from my director, intake interviews, and working with clients!" - Sepideh Agahi

"Ms. Agahi's work ethic and professionalism is exceptional. She prioritized the needs of the clinic and our clients, and was approved to devote extra hours while we worked to quickly transition clinic activities so that we could continue to provide therapeutic services to our clients during the pandemic, with the least amount of disruption possible. In her work in our clinic, Ms. Agahi quickly emerged as a leader. She is able to support a collaborative group effort, and is committed to promoting teamwork." - PGBS Student Engagement & Success - Clinics


Candy Shim


Excellence in Service: Candy Shim

Department: PGBS Student Engagement & Success
Job Title: Writing Consultant
Major: Masters in Global Business
Career Choice: Creative Project Management

"I enjoy the interactions I get to have with my fellow peers at Graziadio, especially those from different programs. Also, I love my weekly catch-ups with my supervisor, Emily! You're the best!" - Candy Shim

"Candy has been a wonderful graduate student employee for us this year. She has been incredibly reliable and has demonstrated sound judgment and ability to work independently, which has been crucial in the online environment. She truly goes above-and-beyond before, during, and after tutoring sessions to ensure that the students she is tutoring have a personalized experience and individualized resources to support their success. When not actively tutoring, Candy takes it upon herself to complete LinkedIn Learning trainings, watch webinars, and do research to gain more knowledge for her position." - PGBS Student Engagement & Success

Grace Ramsey  

Excellence in Leadership: Grace Ramsey

Department: Campus Recreation
Job Title: Pepperdine Esports Team Manager
Major: Philosophy; Rhetoric & Leadership
Career Choice: Attorney in the Gaming & Esports Industry

"I love being a part of Pepperdine Esports because I love being able to provide these awesome teams for students to compete in and the broader gaming community on campus. Everyone I work with is awesome, and my supervisor, Robb Bolton, is an amazing mentor and supporter for all his employees." - Grace Ramsey

"In the past year Grace has successfully been able to manage the esports team through a completely virtual environment without the team losing any momentum due to the pandemic. The esports team has been competing this entire school year and has even grown and added a new game thanks to her efforts. This is the only club sports program at Pepperdine that has been able to stay connected and engaged during the campus closure. Grace has partnered with two other major organizations to create a pilot Esports Mentorship program by which Pepperdine Esports will become mentors for high school esports students." - Campus Recreation


Excellence in Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Justice: Mary Buffaloe

Department: Center for the Arts
Job Title: Box Office Lead
Major: Creative Writing
Career Choice: Poet

"When I did come into Smothers to do my shift, I'd know that just for a bit, I would be happy. My day could have been awful and exhausting, but when I would sit in my chair and spin around to say hi to my friends, I was purely happy." - Mary Buffaloe

"Mary emerged early as a skilled leader and a fine representative of the Center for the Arts and Pepperdine University. Over the last four years, she has proven herself in both her work and her relationships with her fellow student workers and CFA staff members. We are never afraid to leave a task in Mary's hands and she approaches even the simplest of tasks in a way that helps grow efficiency and improve the experience of our patrons. Mary always manages to handle the high-pressure moments with grace and kindness." - Center for the Arts


2021 Student Employee of the Year Nominees

View 2021 Program for more information about each nominee

SEOTY 2021


  2020 Student Employee of the Year Awards Ceremony

2020 Pepperdine Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year

Gabriel Garcia

2020 Pepperdine Graduate Student Employee of the Year

McKayla Menzel

Student: Gabriel Garcia

Department: Student Health Center
Supervisor: Andrea Kollerbohm

Gabriel Garcia was also named California State Student Employee of the Year by the Western Association of Student Employment Administrators!

Student: McKayla Menzel

Department: Student Engagement and Success
Supervisor: Emily Guetzoian

2020 Student Employee of the Year Finalists


Tryphena Clair

Boys & Girls Club



Daniel Kibuuka

Drescher Library


Amanda Langston

Human Resources


Jared Lee

Campus Recreation

Michelle Okinedo

Michelle Okinedo

Waves On Call

2020 Student Employee of the Year Nominees