The nomination as BYU employee of the year for winner Lauren Weber and runner up Jay Puafisi is an impressive achievement considering that BYU employs about 14,000 students.
Lauren Weber, majoring in Ancient Near Eastern studies, was employed by the BYU Center for Teaching and Learning to supervise 55 students responsible for training students and faculty on Learning Suite. Teaching center staff intended to hire a graduate student but were so impressed with Weber, an undergraduate student, that they hired her. Cary Johnson, implementation coordinator for the Center for Teaching and Learning, was partly responsible for Weber being hired.
“We planned to hire a graduate student to do such a weighty job,” Johnson wrote in Weber’s nomination letter, “but when we met with Lauren, we saw that she was bright and capable, had previous experience and had many of the important skills needed to do the job.”
Since being hired, Weber has exceeded the expectations of her employers by being thorough, prompt and regularly reporting progress. Most of all, faculty that work with Weber are impressed by the attention she gives to the 55 students that work under her. Weber delegates assignments to her team that fit their individual needs and interests. This gives students the chance to get valuable work experience and become more professional, confident workers.
It has been Weber’s goal to help her employees gain valuable work experience under her direction while effectively fulfilling the team’s objective to ease the transition into using Learning Suite.
“I’ve really tried to create a community with my student employees,” Weber said, “which is hard when everyone is from different backgrounds and (has) different levels of experience.”
Weber’s employers believe that she has realized her goal to create a student community among her employees, and her hard work has left an impression on those who work above and below her.
“I am very flattered,” Weber said about the award. “There was a lot of blushing.”
Runner up Jay Puafisi currently works as a SOAR or Summer of Academic Refinement assistant. Puafisi attended SOAR as a high school student, became a SOAR counselor and is now the SOAR assistant. Puafisi came from a broken family and expected to be a manual laborer rather than receive a university education. He said the program meant a lot to him as a young student and that he is glad he has a chance to give back as an employee.
“I came to the program, and they helped me out a lot,” Puafisi said. “My dream was to work in the office to pay it forward, so it’s more than a job for me … I want to help underprivileged kids so they can get out of their unfortunate situation because that’s what I got,” Puafisi said.
Anthony Bates, assistant director for BYU Multicultural Student Services, presented Puafisi at a Monday awards ceremony. He said that Puafisi came from a hard family background and has been an incredible influence for good in their office. Bates wrote in Puafisi’s nomination letter that he is a forward thinker. Puafisi is always thinking about the big picture and the end result.
“He has the right heart, and he’s going to do great things,” Bates said.
Wade Ashton, manager of Student Employment, is impressed by the student employees as a whole.
“It’s safe to say that this University runs on our students,” Ashton said.