Juliette Ball was named the 2023 BYU Student Employee of the Year. Alexa Fox took second place and Heidi Wilding took third place. The finalists and other student employees were celebrated during Student Employee Appreciation Week on March 13 with the announcement of the recipients of the award.
BYU has many qualified and exceptional student employees, and this award was created to recognize their efforts. Departments and supervisors can nominate their employees to be considered for the award.
Ball is an office specialist in the Office of the General Counsel, where she does work such as preparing for meetings, training and coordinating with other office assistants, as well as legal research and writing.
Ball said she was surprised to have been chosen for the award. “I just come to work and I do my best and I don’t know. I didn’t really expect to have any sort of recognition or anything,” Ball said. She said she feels humbled, honored and blessed to work in a place that recognizes her contributions and to be nominated for the award.
Ball said she was not expecting to do much legal work when she applied for her job, but has enjoyed getting experience in the field. Ball said her work has helped improve her efficiency, attention to detail and desire to create quality products.
Andrea Hill, the office manager who nominated Ball for the award, said Ball has “gone above and beyond doing things that she wasn’t ever asked to do. She just sees a need and fills it.”
Fox, the second-place finalist, is the student manager of customer and employee experience for Cougar Creations. Fox said it felt weird, but cool to receive the award since she was also nominated last year but was not one of the finalists.
Raymond Elder, the manager of Cougar Creations, nominated Fox both years and said she was instrumental in turning around Cougar Creations when it was going through a rough patch. Elder said when he needed a new student manager, Fox impressed him with her customer service abilities and her confidence that she could do it.
“We’ve taken this place from losing money every year to making money every year,” Fox said. Not only did that help Cougar Creations, Elder said, but is also a valuable asset to the campus community as BYU does not have to outsource the work that Cougar Creations does.
Fox wrote the training manuals, mission statement, employee handbook and slogan for Cougar Creations, Elder said. Fox worked to create a system that could be continued when she was gone, Elder said.
In addition to helping Cougar Creations, Fox helps the other student employees, Elder said. “She didn’t just help these guys be better employees for me. She did everything she could to help them be better people for the future of their employment,” Elder said.
Wilding, the third-place finalist, works as the lab manager of the Abbott Lab of Ecosystem Ecology. Wilding trains students to run machines, follow lab protocols, collect samples and run analyses.
Wilding said she was speechless when she found out she was chosen for the award.
“I really respect Dr. Abbott and I, you know, I work really hard so that his lab can be a success, and it’s cool to be recognized for that,” Wilding said.
Ben Abbott, an assistant professor of ecosystem ecology and director of the lab, said when he was dealing with some personal matters last year, he basically disappeared from the lab. Things could have gotten bad if it were not for Wilding, Abbott said, who stepped in and kept the lab running successfully. She helped students in their lab and throughout the department, Abbott said, and took care of samples and data.
Wilding said her experience working in the lab taught her how to say no to things, manage time, give constructive criticism and hold people to high standards while being their friend.
Abbott said Wilding is “aware of her limits and also very attentive to other people … she has a unique combination of determination and persistence, but also an understanding that you’ve got to get help for many kinds of things. You can’t do it on your own.”