University recognizes student workers

More than 4,000 students work at the university, many in unglamorous jobs that don’t garner much attention.

This week, some may get their due notice as SIU celebrates National Student Employment Week.

The week kicked off with the annual ceremony Tuesday, where Jacob Huffstutler, a senior from Mt. Vernon studying physics, was named student employee of the year for his work as a laboratory assistant in physics.

Alexis Irlam, a senior from Virginia studying leisure service management, works out Tuesday with her personal trainer, Blake Brown, a graduate student from Belleville studying exercise science, at the Recreation Center. Brown has been employed by the university for nine months and says he enjoys his job. Jessica Tezak | Daily Egyptian

Of the students the university employs, 10 were nominated for this year’s award.

The top three finalists were awarded money to their Bursar accounts.

Toni Vagner, student employment manager, said she has been coordinating the event for years.

“The student employees are a complete asset to the university. Without them, the school would not be able to operate,” she said.

Every fiscal year, each department of the university is awarded a certain amount of federal money to employ students.

Vagner said how the departments use that money and who each department decides to employ with its own funds is up to its discretion.

The student employee payroll averages approximately $11 million annually.

“I believe that much student involvement and work should not go unnoticed. That is why we join the nation in celebrating every year, ” she said.

The university is a part of the Midwest Association of Student Employee Administration.

According to the association website, the organization is comprised of administrators and counselors from post-secondary institutions who are involved in securing employment opportunities for students.

Vagner said the university and MASEA share the goal of providing opportunities for students.

“The great thing is that while the students are providing their services, the university is providing, among other things, a learning experience,” she said.

Josh Gray, a sophomore from Evanston studying radio-television and a library assistant, said working for the university was a great decision.

“At the end of the day, a paycheck is not the only thing I take away from this job,” he said. “I’ve learned many valuable skills such as time management.”

Gray said he receives payment through a federal work-study. He said it is rewarding to know he is working toward his education.

Lucas Damian, a junior from Carbondale studying sports administration and a grounds worker, said working for the university is more than just a blowoff job.

“Although this job does not really apply to my major, it has taught me what hard work is and given me a reason to have good work ethic,” he said. “My everyday experiences here have given work a different value.”

A.j. Neilan, a junior from Algonquin studying forestry and a university dining employee, said working at Grinnell Hall has been awesome.

“Not only do I get a paid, but I also get to meet a ton of people that I otherwise never would have,” he said.

Neilan said he likes the idea of National Student Employment Week.

“It’s good to know that somebody appreciates that I always keep the soda coolers stocked,” he said.


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Ashley Zborek

About Ashley Zborek

Hello, My name is Ashley and I am the Daily Egyptian's Online Editor. I started off at the DE as a campus reporter in fall 2011.

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