Facebook pixel Student Employee of the Year | Pepperdine University Skip to main content
Pepperdine University

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, Excellence In Diversity & Inclusion and Excellence in Technology & Innovation.  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.



Year 2023-2024

Erika Henderson

Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year: Erika Henderson

Department: RISE
Job Title: RISE Events Team Student Employee
Major: Sports Medicine
Career Choice: Physical Therapist

"I love the work environment! All of the student employees and supervisors are amazing. My supervisor Jackie has been so fun to work with and I have learned so much about the behind the scenes of events and programming." —Erika Henderson

"Even though Erika was new to the events team this year, she is a leader on the RISE team. Her wisdom is valued by student employees and professional staff alike. The students turn to Erika for event support as she is always willing to lend a helping hand and is a great asset at any event. The professional staff turn to Erika to workshop ideas and solicit her feedback. Erika is the kind of student employee that you can give an assignment to with a brief explanation, and she will not only execute it, but will go above and beyond. The trust we have in her is immeasurable." —RISE

Chelsea Ramel

Graduate Student Employee of the Year: Chelsea Ramel

Department: Office of the General Counsel
Job Title: Law Clerk
Major: Juris Doctor
Career Choice: Lawyer

"What I like most about my job is the amazing people I get the pleasure to work alongside - it's been an honor to be a part of such a welcoming and wonderful work team!" —Chelsea Ramel

"Chelsea is always willing to jump in and help when help is needed, always excitedly pursues each project and approaches each with vigor and excitement.  She always does her work with a smile and shows kindness toward everyone with whom she works. Chelsea is very communicative with a stellar attitude to assist in any way. Chelsea is a pleasure to work with. She asks interesting questions and is always engaged in her work. It is clear that she cares about her work and providing the University with the best representation." —Office of the General Counsel

Heather Dougan

Excellence in Service: Heather Dougan

Department: Student Care Team
Job Title: Graduate Student Assistant for Holistic Care and Well Being
Major: Master of Public Policy with specializations in Dispute Resolution and American Politics and Public Policy
Career Choice: Public Sector Job Promoting Beneficial Community Policy

"One aspect of my job that I truly appreciate is the shared commitment to advancing Pepperdine University's reputation as an exceptional institution through our work with the Waves Food Cabinets to support students who have challenges accessing healthy, fulfilling food. Under Britney Summerville Brannan and the rest of the Student Care Team, students can access the resources they need with dignity and care, which is a crucial element for academic success." —Heather Dougan

"Heather has supported our office in maintaining all 6 Waves Food Cabinet locations, provided support in report writing, and has contributed to the overall well-being of the WFCs.  Because of Heather's work with the Waves Food Cabinets students have access to hundreds of perishable and non-perishable goods each week." —Student Care Team

Mary Paige Rowsey

Excellence in Leadership: Mary Paige Rowsey

Department: Campus Recreation
Job Title: Recreational Sports Student Manager
Major: Film Studies
Career Choice: Film/Sports Production

"I love that I get paid to hangout with Julian and watch sports!" —Mary Paige Rowsey

"As a constant presence at our Intramural events, Mary Paige has consistently and uniquely connected with students and her colleagues in a variety of ways. Through personal and outward-facing promotions of their accomplishments (no matter how seemingly small), our participants feel more valued by her actions. Not only does Mary Paige serve as the Rec Sports student manager, but also as the team lead for our events and marketing teams. Never afraid to step-in and help, but also having the knowledge of when to allow others to take on responsibility, Mary Paige is regularly sought out by team members for guidance and support." —Campus Recreation

Maddie Beadle

Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion: Maddie Beadle

Department: Community Engagement and Service 
Job Title: Student Assistant for Disability Awareness Week
Major: Political Science
Career Choice: Lawyer

"I love the opportunity and encouragement we have to pursue our passions through our work and the community we have built. Community Engagement and Service is a place where we, as students, get real-world experience and cultivate valuable personal and professional skills in a safe environment. My coworkers are amazing and because of the culture among the student staff, I have been able to cultivate meaningful friendships as well." –Maddie Beadle

"Maddie's work leading Disability Awareness Week planning has influenced the campus culture and will continue to impact the university in years to come. By promoting disability pride and centering the voices of members of the disabled community in Disability Awareness Week events, inclusion isn't an afterthought but is in the very essence of all of Maddie's efforts and work." —Community Engagement and Service



Olivia Cerbie

Excellence in Technology & Innovation: Olivia Cerbie

Department: Athletic Communications
Job Title: Student Assistant
Major: Sports Administration
Career Choice: Work in Division I College Athletics

"Everything I know about the sport industry has come from my supervisors and the staff in Athletics. The positive environment inspires me to work hard and become the best version of myself. My supervisor, Sarah, has fostered my passion for college athletics, and has become a mentor who invests and believes in me. Working at Pepperdine Athletics has been the best experience of my college career, and I feel so lucky to go to work everyday surrounded by talented people who support and uplift me." —Olivia Cerbie

"Olivia Cerbie has largely stepped up into a leadership role within the department the past two years.  Learning to love the job and what athletic communicators do, she has given herself fully into learning everything she can, she performs any job she is given admirably and without constant oversight, and is a blessing to have around the office and at games.  She is simply impressive, and has taken on a huge load for our staff, helping us to continue to work without a misstep because of her expertise, attitude, and willingness to help. " —Athletic Communications

View 2022 Program for more information about each nominee

View 2023 Program for more information about each nominess

View 2024 Program for more information about each nominess


View Past Student Employee of the Year Nominees

  2023 Student Employee Award Recipients

Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year: Emily Shaw

Department: RISE and Department of Public Safety 
Job Title: RISE Marketing Student Employee and Pepperdine Mobility Driver
Major: Psychology
Career Choice: Clinical Therapist

"I love my supervisors, Stacey Lee and Debra Cowart, and I am so grateful for their mentorship. I also love being able to serve the Pepperdine community through my roles." - Emily Shaw

"I see Emily striving to live out the growth mindset in all she does, not just in her work, but also in her friendships, her relationships, her academics, and her faith - in every area of her life. I hope that I have shared many examples above of the ways she consistently strives to innovate, change, and improve to better serve others, whether that is learning and suggesting a new technology, hosting a never-before-done video series on Instagram, or even volunteering to be one of two student co-hosts for the RISE Summit itself!" - RISE


Graduate Student Employee of the Year: Emily Gerst

Department: Student Activities
Job Title: Fraternity & Sorority Graduate Student Assistant
Major: Dispute Resolution
Career Choice: University Ombudsperson

"I love working as a part of the Student Activities team! My supervisor, Molleigh, is incredibly supportive, she consistently gives me opportunities to use my strengths, pursue my interests, and gain new skills. I enjoy being in a role where I get to work with an amazing team and serve students in tangible ways. My experience in FSL and Student Activities has given me great insight into the world of higher education and helped me develop my post-grad plans." - Emily Gerst

"Emily is extremely dedicated to her professional development through this role. She is in constant communication with our students in a professional manner, she is timely in her approaches to working with students and staff, and constantly strives to improve the fraternity/sorority experience. Emily is also a great asset to other members of Student Activities and Student Affairs and constantly volunteers to assist outside of just the fraternity/sorority space as well. " - Student Activities


Excellence in Service: Stephanie Abad

Department: Jumpstart
Job Title: Jumpstart Intern
Major: Psychology
Career Choice: Clinical Psychologist

"I love seeing the impact that our program has on not only the communities we serve but also the student employees too. Knowing that we are making a difference for kids like I once was is my favorite part of the job!" - Stephanie Abad

"Stephanie has managed to make herself an invaluable member of the Jumpstart team. She has distinguished herself as a leader amongst the other students and student leaders that are a part of Jumpstart. This year Stephanie has managed to create training curriculum for Jumpstart's all day trainings and lead a group of 75+ corps members through the content single-handedly. Stephanie supports a multitude of programmatic efforts. Stephanie consistently supports other leaders who work in the office with their projects like jumpstart materials, data entry  for compliance efforts, corps culture building, and more." - Jumpstart


Excellence in Leadership: Ethan Barragan

Department: RISE
Job Title: RISE Student Lead
Major: Political Science, Minor in Rhetoric and Leadership
Career Choice: Higher Education Staff

"While working at RISE, I have come to enjoy and greatly appreciate the growth opportunities in my role. I'm grateful for having the confidence and support of my supervisors to host various events in line with RISE's six dimensions of resilience. Working with Jackie has been a blessing, and her leadership has allowed me to grow both professionally and personally. I look forward to me and Jackie's one-on-one meetings every Monday afternoon, where we catch up from the weekend and make a plan to get things done during the week. I've had the privilege of working alongside Jackie for about two years at RISE, and we have accomplished many great things together. Thank you for always being in my corner Jackie!" - Ethan Barragan

"When Ethan wants to learn something new or feels that he has an area of growth to build upon, he immediately takes initiative and asks professional staff for opportunities to learn...Ethan did an absolutely fantastic job leading RISE & Thrive. He even had students approaching him after - once again, fostering that community." - RISE


Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion: Jacob Jones

Department: Boys & Girls Club of Malibu Wellness Center
Job Title:  Community Affairs and Outreach Specialist
Major: Business Adminstration
Career Choice: Finance, Commercial Real-Estate

"Everyone at the Boys and Girls club is welcoming and are great examples to the kids and students at the schools around Malibu and LA. Siugen leads by example and has played an important role for the improvement of the community of Malibu." - Jacob Jones

"Jake has supported the Wellness Center by sending communication in Spanish and English to our parents for parent workshops and visiting Malibu Labor Exchange to support with our efforts to outreach these labor workers.  Jake's professionalism with parents, students, staff and clients at the Wellness Center is remarkably special with our minorities population. He makes them feel safe and welcome to come and ask for social and mental health services. Collaboration is always there for Jake. As a non-profit a lot of our events are fundraiser events and Jake is always available to be there supporting directly or indirectly. This year he ran the Malibu Half Marathon. We were one of the beneficiaries and he represented the Boys & Girls Club team on the run and he worked the next day on the event."  - Wellness Center


Excellence in Technology & Innovation: Caroline Sun

Department: Genesis Lab (Pepperdine Library)
Job Title: Genesis Lab Student Assistant
Major: Computer Science
Career Choice: Software Engineer

"What I like most about my job is being able to help students and faculty print the most creative and fun models that could also be useful in their day to day lives." - Caroline Sun

"Caroline is an incredibly hardworking student and integral to the success of the Genesis Lab. She is receptive to instruction, traning, and advice and quickly implements and pivots based on the feedback she receives. She ensures that the 3D print requiests that the Genesis Lab receives are organized and completed efficiently and has  become the resident expert on the Cricut Maker machine, designing her own stickers and guiding other students through their own projects. One of the msot fun projects we've worked on together was the building of a hologram projector which currently lives in the Genesis Lab and frequently elecits "that's so cool!" comments from our visitors" -  Genesis Lab (Pepperdine Library)

  2022 Student Employee Award Recipients


Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year: Hannah Cheng

Department: Pepperdine Libraries
Job Title: Marketing Assistant
Major: Integrated Marketing & Communications
Career Choice: Marketing / Advertising

"I loved the creativity, flexibility and remote work opportunities the job provided. For most student workers, they could not continue working when the pandemic hit. I am so thankful I was still able to work from home and my supervisor was very understanding and encouraging through it all!" - Hannah Cheng

"Hannah Cheng, a bright student with limitless potential once she graduates this spring, has been working for the Libraries since her first year at Pepperdine. She is trustful and independent, requiring little oversight on the job. She takes initiative, bringing well-thought ideas to the table. And she is a team player, communicating effectively with collaborators on projects and seeing them to full completion." - Pepperdine Libraries


Graduate Student Employee of the Year: Giuliana Colon Roisenzvit

Department: RISE
Job Title: Graduate Student Assistant
Major: 2L Law School
Career Choice: Lawyer

"I love the people I work with." - Giuliana Colon Roisenzvit

"Giuli is always ready to serve wherever is needed...Giuli demonstrates career management when she balances a full course load as a law student with the great deal of tasks that are assigned to her. With Giuli being a graduate student employee, the more high-level tasks are assigned to her, and she utilizes every opportunity to learn and grow." - RISE


Excellence in Service: Regann Flynn

Department: Student Health Center
Job Title: Student Worker
Major: Political Science
Career Choice: Lawyer

"The environment at the Student Health Center is helpful, collaborative, and welcoming." - Regann Flynn

"Having her steady presence amidst the chaos of the pandemic has allowed our office to continue with much needed albeit tedious tasks that are essential to the excellence of our operations. We are so fortunate to have had her talents shared with us and we will miss her when she graduates this April." - Student Health Center


Excellence in Leadership: Sahej Bhasin

Department: Pepperdine Graphic and Pepperdine Fund
Job Title: Director of Advertising (Graphic) & Associate Supervisor (Fund)
Major: Business Administration
Career Choice: Management Consultant

"I love how I am able to engage with alumni from all different schools at Pepperdine who experienced the same things I have at the university. Hearing about their experiences, making LinkedIn connections beyond our calls, and allowing them to reflect upon their favorite memories and provide contributions towards their favorite organizations is tremendously rewarding." - Sahej Bhasin

"He is what George Pepperdine talks about when this school was founded: A purpose driven servent leader. Sahej serves his classmates, his job, and Pepperdine to the highest degree and remains confident and humble during the process. He treats all clients as important and he is able to maintian his own in negotiating with CEOs. Over the past year, he has exceeded our expectations in sales, professionalism, and innovation. He has earned the respect of his peers and the community." - Pepperdine Graphic

"Sahej is what Pepperdine is all about: Purpose, Service, and Leadership. From the day I met Sahej, he has consistently exceeded my expectations. His can do attitude, enthusiasm, hard work, and commitment to his job and Pepperdine is very impressive." - Pepperdine Fund


Excellence in Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Justice: Naya Edwards

Department: Intercultural Affairs
Job Title: ICA Student Intern / ICA D.E.I Intern
Major: Sports Medicine
Career Choice: Physician Assistant

"I love being able to use my platform to uplift others and amplify their voices." - Naya Edwards

"Naya is responsible for creating content in honor of heritage months and shining a spotlight on faculty/staff members to represent their respective cultures. Naya is organized and inspired to advocate for students at ICA and at pepeprdine. She is creative with he concepts in celebrating cultures and diligent in her tact. In total, Naya demonstrates not just an awareness of diversity and inclusion, but a heart for advocacy." - Intercultural Affairs

  2021 Student Employee Award Recipients


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


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


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

  2020 Student Employee of the Year Awards Ceremony

2020 Pepperdine Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year

Gabriel Garcia

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!

2020 Pepperdine Graduate Student Employee of the Year

McKayla Menzel

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