Universities all over the country annually celebrate their student employees during National Student Employment Week, and BYU student and employee Haven Simmons has received the Student Employee of the Year award.
To kick off the week, a ceremony is held to honor the nominees and the student chosen as as the Employee of the Year. Departments and supervisors nominate student employees for the award. The student chosen is sent to the state competition to, hopefully, win and go on to nationals.
Haven Simmons, Lead Student in Catering was presented with her plaque as Utah’s 2015 Student Employee of the Year and a $50 prize on Monday, April 6 in the Dining Services Staff Meeting. Haven has worked in BYU Catering since April 2012.
Universities in the state of Utah submit their school winners for consideration at the state level, sponsored by the Western Association of Student Employment Administrators. State winners are then forwarded onto the National competition sponsored by the National Student Employment Administrators.
The process in choosing the winner begins with a committee reading all of the nominations. Eighty-six BYU students were nominated this year, so the committee split up into seven groups, with each group reviewing 13 nominations.
The committee then chose the winner from its top nominees. In some cases, the committee has a hard time choosing between several, so they decide to have runner-ups.
This year’s ceremony was held March 30 at 11:00 a.m. in the Wilkinson Center. The turnout was larger than expected.
“A lot of people from dining came,” said Kathleen Christensen, of BYU Student Employment. “It was the largest group we have ever had. It was so fun.”
After the opening prayer, the runner-ups were brought to the front and recognized. Each runner-up received a BYU throw blanket, a BYU Store gift card and a nomination letter.
The Student Employee of the Year went to Simmons, a dining services employee. She was recognized for her proactivity, ability to solve dietary issues quickly and efficiently and for adding new, exciting vegetarian items to the menu.
Adam Jones, the banquet chef, wrote Simmons’ nomination. He described Simmons’ quality of work as “the type of results you would find at a 5-star dining establishment.”
Simmons received a BYU throw made especially for her. The blanket featured a cougar on the mountain with the words “BYU Student Employee of the Year 2015.” Simmons also received a BYU Store gift card and her nomination letter. After she was honored, the director announced that Simmons had also won the state competition and would be moving on to Nationals. Simmons received a standing ovation from the audience.
“It was just the neatest thing,” Christensen said. Simmons’ mother traveled from North Carolina to watch her daughter win the award.
For the rest of the week, the Student Employment Center will hand out candy and apples in the office and outside the BYU Store. A book will be available for students to sign with comments about student employment. Students can also enter a drawing to win donated prizes. All of the tickets from the week will be put in a box to be raffled, and the winner will receive a BYU Store gift card.