Pittsburg State University held a ceremony to honor this year’s Student Employee of the Year nominees Monday, April 8.
Every year, Pitt State departments choose one student employee to represent them with a nomination for PSU Employee of the Year. This year, the event was held in the Ballroom of the Student Overman Center. Though many students were nominated for the award, Kaylah Ailes, senior in English, the Health Human Performance and Recreation’s (HHPR) student nominee, was awarded this year’s Student Employee of the Year.
“Kaylah is very conscientious about her duties here in the HHPR Department,” said Susan Downing, who nominated Ailes for the award. “She converses with faculty, students, and her coworkers in a professional manner. I rely on her to train any new student secretaries that will follow after she graduates. She is a major part of our team!”
As far as the importance of student employment, Downing has no doubt that the program is beneficial to every member of the university and those who visit it.
“Student secretaries are the first contact when someone enters the department; they set the tone for prospective students’ visits, current students who need to see their advisors, or even just someone needing directions,” Downing said. “Our student secretaries are so friendly and share information about our department and programs.”
Student employees are beneficial to the day-to-day tasks that need to be done to keep the university the running effectively but Downing thoroughly enjoys her change to work with PSU students.
“I love getting to know them personally,” Downing said. “They are part of the HHPR family. As they are learning their jobs, the department is learning and walking with them in their university journey. We share joys and sorrows. I love to hear personal stories as well. Often times, I will hear from them after graduation through holiday cards, wedding invitations, or birth announcements.”
Erykah McClendon, University Development’s 2019 nominee and runner up for Student Employee of the Year, praised PSU ‘s student employee program.
“My experience as a student employee will help me in my professional development as well as my personal growth,” McClendon said. “The ladies in the development office have become a second family to me. They have taught me how to place my values in front of every decision I make. I will take every lesson I have learned from them anywhere I go in life.”
McClendon believes that student employees are important to PSU as a university and will benefit both the students and the faculty.
“Student employment opportunities give students an opportunity to learn professionalism in a hands-on work environment and also provide networking opportunities outside of the classroom,” McClendon said. “It is important that we recognize student employees for their work because it lets them know that their contributions are important.”
McClendon has enjoyed working as a student employee, and said she has many fond memories as a university employee.
“I think it’s hard to choose one (memory) because it always comes back to the laughs. I have had so many great experiences, but I think my favorite would be talking with my coworkers, and even on my worst day I can find a reason to laugh with them.”
Ailes, this year’s recipient of the Student Employee of the Year award, believes being a PSU student employee has been beneficial for her.
“Having a job on campus has been vital in my college career,” Alies said. “It has been like a second family. They are always there to check on me, whether it’s asking how a test went, what I did over the weekend, or how my pets are. It has made me take pride in the campus even more than I did as just a student.”
Ailes is confident that her experience will continue to benefit her as she will graduate soon.
“The skills I have learned make me more marketable,” Ailes said. “It has helped me to figure out what kind of work environment I want in the future. The generosity and kindness the HHPR Department has shown me has given me a high standard to search for in the work environments of my future occupations.”
Ailes was thankful she was nominated and ultimately awarded title of student employee of the year.
“I am grateful for my time in the department and am honored to have been nominated and win this award,” Ailes said. “I feel like I have successfully given back to the university and been involved in time as a Pittsburg State University student!”