University celebrates National Student Employment Week
By Brittney Dunkins
As a freshman four years ago, George Washington University student Rachel Lesniak turned her passion for writing into a work-study position at the university’s Writing Center.
Last week, she was honored for her service as a student-employee, taking home the Excellence in Student Life Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year Award and receiving state and northeast region awards from the National Student Employment Association.
The honor was unexpected, the shy English major said, but the accolades were a testament to the value of the student-employee experience at GW.
“Being honored at the Excellence in Student Life Awards and regionally recognized was a new experience for me,” Ms. Lesniak said. “My work has enhanced my college experience in many ways and I think the value of the Writing Center, for both students and consultants, should be recognized by all.”
Ms. Lesniak was one of 3,500 students who were celebrated for their contributions to the university last week during GW’s National Student Employment Week observance.
The week of events, hosted by the Center for Career Services, was held April 13 to April 19 to spotlight the student employees who make up 30 percent of GW’s workforce, working in more than 200 university offices.
“GW student employees are a crucial part of the fabric of the university,” Assistant Provost for University Career Services Rachel Brown said. “They help keep the institution running and act as ambassadors in the D.C. community.
“Through their dedication and hard work, our student employees uphold the GW values of communication, community, diversity, excellence, sustainability, respect, service and teamwork,” she added.
Programming for the 2014 celebration included workshops to prepare students to leverage their employment experience in the job market.
Ms. Lesniak, who also worked at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center for two years, said her experience as a student employee shaped her career goals.
“My interpersonal work at the Writing Center, especially in the form of mentoring, has made me realize how important helping others is to me in the future,” Ms. Lesniak said.
Fifty-one students were nominated by their supervisors for the undergraduate and graduate Student Employee of the Year awards.
The undergraduate finalists were Ms. Lesniak; junior Alix Cohen, the senior manager of Colonial Connection in the Office of Annual Giving; and sophomore Jeffrey Donahue, a GW Housing student associate.
Finalist and Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Education Graduate Assistant Shakita Jenkins was named Graduate Student Employee of the Year at the Excellence in Student Life Awards on April 16. Sean Hoffman, a graduate fellow in the Center for Career Services; and Steven Santos, a research assistant in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine were honored as graduate student finalists.
“As a university we look forward to recognizing the outstanding contributions and achievements of our student employees,” Vice Provost and Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said.
“Often these employees are managing full-time academic schedules, participating in campus activities and working part-time. The commitment they make to balancing the responsibilities of work and school deserves special acknowledgement,” he added.