Graduate student Sean Byrne, left, and Jason Shumaker, senior associate director of financial aid, sit in Saxby's on . Byrne and Shumaker are involved in the process of selecting Work-Study Students of the Semester. (Brielle Paul/B&W Staff)

Work study students recognized for their impact on campus

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This year, there are 958 work-study students at Lehigh. Among these hundreds of employees, only a handful are selected by the Office of Financial Aid as Work Study Students of the Semester.

Joann Deppert, an assistant director of the Financial Aid Office and work study program coordinator, asks all work-study supervisors to nominate students who did exceptional work throughout the semester and serve as integral parts of their respective offices. Supervisors fill out nomination forms, which are then reviewed by a committee that will ultimately choose the award recipients.

For the 2016-2017 academic year, five students were selected in the fall semester and eight were selected in the spring semester.

“We really want to recognize the work-study students who go above and beyond and really help out their departments,” said Sean Byrne, ’16, ’17G, a graduate student assistant in the Office of Financial Aid.

Each selected student wins a $25 Barnes & Noble gift card and Deppert brings the gift certificate to the specific office where the student works. Byrne said these students don’t even know they were nominated, so it’s a nice surprise for them.

“(Deppert) is the mastermind behind all of this,” said Jason Shumaker, a senior associate director in the Office of Financial Aid. “She knows the value of student employees and spearheaded the whole process, worked with supervisors, created the selection team and delivered good news to students and their supervisors.”

Shumaker said people often minimize what work-study can be and what students make of it. He said there are departments on campus that could not function without the work-study student program, so it’s important students know they are valued.

Byrne said the award recipients will have the opportunity to have dinner with President Simon in the coming weeks. 

Massiel Checo, ’20, a work-study student at Rauch Business Center, works as a secretary, events coordinator and office assistant. She was not recognized as a Work Study Student of the Semester, but she takes her job seriously.

“I like that it’s really interactive,” Checo said. “I just don’t sit at a desk all day, I get to actually walk around Rauch and I’m in charge of different tasks. It’s a mix of everything. It’s not just one thing. I get to talk to different people, meet different people, while getting paid.”

Checo said she has a strong relationship with her supervisors, and one even treats her like a daughter. She said she admires Lehigh for recognizing the dedication work study students put into their jobs.

“I feel like (work study) is a really cool part about college in general,” Checo said. “It gives you the opportunity to work and a guaranteed job. To have an award on top of that, I think that makes it very personal, especially how supervisors nominate (students), it puts an added sentiment to the job. It shows that you’re appreciated, in a way.”

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