Student Employee of the Year Announced

Custodial Worker Jason Uren Receives Recognition, Scholarship

By: Jenae Williams

WWU senior Jason Uren received the Employee of the Year Award from campus chaplain Paddy McCoy for his excellent work as head of the floor care crew in the custodial department.

Walla Walla University presented the 2012 Student Employee of the Year Award to Jason Uren, senior industrial design major. The award was announced during the Awards Ceremony CommUnity on Friday, April 27, as part of National Student Employment Week and Homecoming Weekend.  Kristen West, senior accounting major, was recognized as runner up. Kelsie Proctor and Marlena Rebant took third and fourth place, respectively.

Uren is employed in WWU’s Custodial and Grounds department. Since the summer of 2008, he has been part of the floor care crew, who are responsible for deep cleaning of various floor types on campus.  In early 2011, Uren was chosen as head of the department’s floor care team. His duties include supervising two to four student employees, scheduling floor cleaning, and operating and training other students to handle equipment. 

Traditionally, Uren’s position was managed by a staff member, but Uren has excelled in the position as a full-time student. Tobi Goff, Uren’s supervisor and director of the department, says, “Not only has Jason successfully filled the shoes of a permanent staff member, but he has improved the level of organization and service.”

“He schedules floor crew jobs weeks ahead in order to keep his team well informed and provide the most convenient service to departments. At the same time, he is incredibly flexible and somehow always fits in last-minute requests,” Goff says.

Uren not only shows mature professionalism, but he is also well-informed about floor care. Consequently, Goff relies on Uren for advice and making decisions on handling major floor care work. Besides this, Uren “takes the initiative to continue learning,” Goff says.  “For example, Uren attends demonstrations of floor machines and has visited other campuses in Walla Walla to observe their cleaning procedures.”

After Uren’s sister was nominated in 2010 for the award, Uren thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could get nominated too? I was ecstatic to receive it. But while I do strive to be my best, I still have my flaws. Looking around, I see a bunch of other really good workers, so why not them?”

Uren truly enjoys his job and speaks highly of Goff. “She is the best boss anyone could ask for, without her patience and guidance, the first few transition months would have been much worse for me,” he says.

The National Student Employment Week, started by the National Student Employment Association (NSEA), is the second full week of April each year. The week is a time to recognize the outstanding contributions and achievements of students who work while attending college. WWU is part of the Western Association of Student Employment Administrators, one of four regions in the United States.

WWU invites departments to nominate outstanding student workers for the award.  Nominations are reviewed and the winner selected by a 10-member committee made up of four faculty, four staff, and two students.  Each year, the student employee winner is entered in the state competition.

WWU students have won the state nomination several times in the past.

Twyla Kruger, student employment director at WWU, says, “Each year when I read the nominations for the Student Employee of the Year, I am impressed with the quality of the student workers here. To me, it reinforces the fact that employment is another very important part of a student’s education.”

This year’s Student Employee of the Year receives a $750 scholarship; the runner-up receives a $403 scholarship.


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