Cameras flashed and applause erupted in the Wilkinson Student Center as the three BYU Student Employee of the Year finalists were congratulated for their outstanding service to the BYU community.
Out of more than 100 nominees, Frank Tovar and Shantel Miller were the runners-up in the competition while Kelsey Smith ultimately won the Student Employee of the Year at the BYU and state level. Nominees are submitted by department officials across campus and chosen by a committee composed of students, faculty, administrators and professors. All three finalists expressed their surprise and gratitude for the awards and recognition from their employers.
Smith, a senior from Springfield, Va., majoring in English, said the award took her by surprise because her employer said she was invited to a panel discussion. Smith works in the Office of Prestigious Scholarships and Fellowships. She said she felt privileged to receive this honor that will add to her drive in excelling at her job.
“This is a motivator for me to work hard and put forth my best effort in any appointment I have,” Smith said.
Carolyn Tuitupou, assistant dean of Undergraduate Education, nominated Smith because of her exceptional accomplishments both inside and outside the office.
“She is deserving of this employee recognition because of not only being reliable and competent, but because she has gone the second mile outside of work hours to help and counsel students to help them achieve their goals,” Tuitupou said.
Tovar, a senior majoring in communications, received recognition for his employment with the BYU Bookstore where he started at the candy counter and now works in the marketing and public relations sector. Tovar said he was grateful for the award but advised other student employees that no one should just work toward gaining awards but to simply perform their best.
“Those times when you get a project, you can choose to make it a mundane, daily task, or you can make the project your own by incorporating your own talents and ideas into what you’re doing,” Tovar said.
Miller, a senior from Draper, majoring in recreation management, is the secretary in the dean’s office at the BYU Law School. She was a top finalist because of her capabilities and willingness to follow through with any assignment. Miller said her sister was also a runner-up for the award a couple of years ago and believes the secret is work ethic.
“Student employees need to take every assignment and finish it to the end,” Miller said. “I always work hard and strive to be both personable and professional.”
Kathleen Christensen works in the Student Employee Office and helps with the selection process. Christensen said each year the committee is surprised how difficult it is to choose between the nominees because all of them are integral part of the BYU community.
“The committee decides their nomination criteria and each of the nominees are exceptional so they have to find that small thing that sets them apart,” Christensen said.