Each year, Pittsburg State University’s Office of Career Services announces their choice for the annual Student Employee of the Year award in an awards ceremony. The winner was chosen from the top 20 students nominated by their department.
“Our students make such a difference every day on our campus and it’s so important we celebrate and recognize their work, and we also say thank you,” said PSU President Steve Scott during the virtual ceremony on Monday afternoon. “This university cannot function without you.”
The 31st annual winner and this year’s recipient was Gulifeila “Daisy” Alimu, sophomore in psychology, who works in PSU’s International Programs and Services. The announcement was made during a virtual ceremony via a Zoom recording.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Alimu said. “I was already so excited to be nominated and to be in the top 20.”
This was the second year in a row Alimu had been nominated and chosen as one of the top 20 student employees, but this year was her first time winning.
“I feel very grateful to have even been nominated again,” Alimu said. “…(So,) winning the award was just overwhelming for me. Even ‘til now, I couldn’t believe it’s happened.”
Alimu was chosen as this year’s Pitt State Employee of the Year, but she was also chosen as the State of Kansas Student Employee of the Year.
“It was already so much and after that (second award), I just felt so happy,” Alimu said. “I’m just so happy because it’s happened. I’ll be sending this to my parents and they’re so proud even though they cannot be here to celebrate this with me.”
Alimu, originally from China, first came to PSU as a student in the Intensive English Program. Her experiences as an international student shaped the way she works in the office.
“…Because of my experience as an international student, when I first came, I needed so much help and coming to another country was sometimes stressful,” Alimu said. “So, all the struggle I’ve been through I think I wanted to pay back working there because we’ve got a lot of international students pop by with any kind of question possible. So, I really do my best to help out and just to contribute a little bit.”
Amber Etcheson, Coordinator of International Recruitment and Marketing, nominated Alimu after being struck by her kindness and helpfulness her first few weeks in the office.
“I was pretty new to the office, so I worked with Daisy a lot,” Etcheson said. “She was the smiling face then that made me feel comfortable at the office and those first few days at PSU; and she was really the one to come and help me, whether it was with the different software and technology we use at the office, or telling me the names of different student workers, (and) kind of introducing me. She is the international student in a foreign land and she’s the one taking me under her wing… and teaching me.”
Etcheson said one reason she nominated Alimu was her ability to work as a team player, making her “a great representation of PSU.”
“She comes into the office every day and we always have different tasks for student workers, and she’ll get through all of her list and then go see what other people need,” Etcheson said. “Student workers usually work their office hours assigned, but Daisy goes above and beyond that.”
Additionally, not only does Alimu help international students while in the office but outside of work and in her free time.
“She’ll work the office hours she’s assigned then in off hours she’s willing to help international students with transportation or getting things they need or answering questions,” Etcheson said. “So, she’s working probably double what we pay her to work. That’s another reason we’re happy to have her in the office, she makes sure international students are getting everything they need.”
Alimu said she goes into the office each day and tries her best.
“I figure it’s better for me to do my best so I think that it’s what my dad kept on saying me helped a lot just to help me do my best at my workplace,” Alimu said. “It’s a very simple thing. Just doing my best.”
Having worked at the office since the summer of 2018, Alimu said work, though challenging at times, is made easy because “I love this.”
“…So, I’ve been always wanting to do this until I started working,” Alimu said. “This is what I dreamed of… It was so much cool. I just feel very passionate about it.”
Alimu said her favorite part of work are her coworkers and the students she gets to interact with every day.
Going forward, receiving this award has motivated Alimu for when she returns to work.
“It will motivate me more when going back to work knowing that I was recognized for what I was doing just by simply doing what I’m doing means a lot,” Alimu said. “So, it gives me a lot of motivation.”