When Yoshini Gunawardena was hired by Portland State Campus Recreation in June of 2006, she thought she might end up being “the person who flips numbers at a basketball game.” On April 16 of this year, she was chosen from over 50 nominees to be the 2008 Student Employee of the Year for her work as Campus Recreation marketing coordinator.
When Yoshini Gunawardena was hired by Portland State Campus Recreation in June of 2006, she thought she might end up being “the person who flips numbers at a basketball game.”
On April 16 of this year, she was chosen from over 50 nominees to be the 2008 Student Employee of the Year for her work as Campus Recreation marketing coordinator.
Gunawardena, a graphic design major, was hired in 2006 as a marketing assistant, despite having no prior experience in marketing. By the end of that year, Gunawardena had been promoted to marketing coordinator. She spends her work hours–usually before class in the morning–working with vendors, raising funds and designing promotional materials. She is also a student ambassador for the university.
“It was definitely not expected,” Gunawardena said. “There’s so many students that do a wonderful job and make an impact … It’s an honor to be up there with them.” When Gunawardena joined the newly created marketing team two years ago, it was not clear what her responsibilities would be.
“At first they didn’t really know what they wanted me to do,” Gunawardena said. Since being hired, she said, she has helped to build the identity of marketing within Campus Rec.
“The longer we’ve had this marketing team, the more fish we’re getting,” she said.
Gunawardena transferred from the University of Oregon, where she held a number of off-campus jobs. She prefers working on campus because “they understand that you’re a student first.” Gunawardena said there are other benefits to working on campus.
“It’s helped me network and make friends on campus.” That is something that she said can be a challenge for some students at PSU. She also stressed the learning opportunities that come from campus jobs, calling it a “two-way partnership.” “I don’t think I can summarize how wonderful Yoshini is,” said coworker and fellow award nominee Eric Sanelle. “Everything she creates is awesome.” “I don’t know how she has the time,” he said, adding that Gunawardena was usually there working when he arrived in the morning and was still there when he went home at night. Earlier this year, Gunawardena was given the William Wasson Student Academic and Leadership Award for excellence in Campus Recreation, awarded by the National Intramural-Recreation Sports Association.
Gunawardena is a senior, and is set to graduate in the fall.
All the time she has committed to jobs and other activities on campus is “totally worth it,” she said.