PSU student wins Oregon Student Employee of the Year award

Portland State student Jacob Sherman was awarded both the PSU Student of the Year Award and the Oregon Student of the Year award at Wednesday’s packed Hats Off! Student Employee Reception and Recognition Ceremony.

Portland State student Jacob Sherman was awarded both the PSU Student of the Year Award and the Oregon Student of the Year award at Wednesday’s packed Hats Off! Student Employee Reception and Recognition Ceremony.

Five other student employees were given Outstanding Honoree Awards.

All honored student employees were presented with gift baskets that included PSU t-shirts, mugs and gift certificates. 

The line to get into the ceremony began to form about 15 minutes before the 3 p.m. start time of the event and snaked around Smith Memorial Student Union.

Staff and student employees piled into Parkway North to drink coffee, eat chocolate-covered strawberries and honor students working on campus.  

The reception started with a speech by Dean of Student Life Michele Toppe. She called the reception one of her favorite events of the year and described how student employment was an important aspect of campus life.

Employment at the university allows students to develop workplace skills and to get to know faculty and administrators who can later provide references, according to Toppe. 

“We’re all winners today,” Associate Vice President of Human Resources Cathy LaTourette said.

LaTourette went on to talk about how the nomination process works. Supervisors nominate student employees using a nomination form that calls for descriptions of the student’s reliability, initiative, uniqueness of contribution, quality of work, professionalism and community or campus service.

A selection committee uses these six criteria to select award winners.  

Associate Vice Provost of Academic and Career Services Dan Fortmiller presented five awards for Outstanding Honorees. Usually only four of these awards are given but, according to Fortmiller, this year’s committee was overwhelmed by the quality of the nominees.  

The Outstanding Honorees, in order of award presentation, were Whitney Church, Ryan Jumamil, Naoko Horikawa, Bailey Johnston and Shidon Aflatooni. 

Linda Etter, Jumamil’s supervisor, said, “If I could clone Ryan I would.” Jumamil is a student assistant in the Office of Admissions.

Horikawa, a graduate administrative assistant in the Intensive English Language program, was nominated by 17 coworkers, according to Fortmiller.  

Shidon works as a law clerk in Student Legal Services and attends Lewis and Clark Law School. He was surprised to receive his nomination and award. 

“The fact that I am able to work at PSU is indicative of the university’s ability to collaborate with other institutions to provide a meaningful job experience to other students within the Portland community,” Shidon said. 

The Student Employee of the Year Award was presented by last year’s winner Eddie Barnhart to Sherman for his work as a graduate administrative assistant and peer mentor in the University Studies program.

Sherman is a part of the Leadership for Sustainability Education Program in the Graduate School of Education. 

Sherman’s work site will be decorated by a special plaque honoring his achievement until next year, according to JR Tarabocchia, Student Affairs Outreach Coordinator and a member of the Student Employment Steering Committee that organizes the event. 

Sherman also won the state student employee award. This award is accompanied by a prize of $50. It’s only been won by two PSU students in the history of the university.  

In his acceptance speech, Sherman thanked the University Studies office and said that being a student employee had been “an amazing opportunity.” 

“We’re benefiting from this as students,” Sherman said. “Positions are helping pay our way through the university.” 

Sherman later said he felt honored to receive these awards and that his position in the University Studies program does not feel like work. 

“I come to work because I am passionate about supporting interdisciplinary education,” Sherztman said. “I believe it helps students see connections between topics, issues and academic disciplines, and provides a foundation to engage and inspire students to think in new ways that can solve our complex problems and help create a more just and sustainable society.” ?