Shantell Rolle sat in disbelief as her name rang throughout the Kovens Center ballroom. She tried desperately to hold her composure and keep the tears at bay.
“Stop crying,” she repeated to herself marching toward the stage.
On April 11, the chemistry and biology double major outshined more than 200 other students to win the 2014 Student Employee of the Year award.
“Being appreciated is crazy!” she said. “What are the odds I manage to win?”
Vice President of Enrollment Services Luisa Havens announced the six awardees: five runners-up and one winner. When it came time to announce Rolle’s award she did her best to keep the audience members on the edge of their seats.
“Efficient, reliable, organized, positive, professional,” Havens read the list of adjectives from the award nomination, careful not to reveal the gender of the winner. Rolle was unaware she was the winner even after Havens said the Student Employee of the Year was Jamaican.
Rolle, who is taking seven classes this semester and works three jobs, was nominated by two different FIU departments: the budgeting department at the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and the chemistry department.
Senior chemistry instructor Milagros Delgado, who nominated Rolle, said, “Everything she prepares for the lab is perfect. You can trust 100 percent that it is perfect.”
“[She is] the epitome of an amazing student,” said Director of Budgeting and Human Resources Kathie Alexander, who nominated Rolle for her stellar work in the budgeting office at the School of Hospitality.
The Student Employee of the Year leaves with far more than a simple award. For all her hard work Rolle received quite a prize package: $500 in cash, a round-trip domestic flight from Delta Airlines and the most coveted prize of all, a guaranteed parking space.
Most supervisors were in agreement about what their student employees meant to FIU.
“Students are an integral part of the staff,” said Associate Director of International Students and Scholar Services Ted Randall ’99 MA ‘02. Student employees make up more than half of the workers in his office.
“Students need education,” he said, “but they also need work experience.”
One nominee, Glorimar Maldanado, who works for the FIU Nature Preserve, was more concerned with her department than herself.
“[I’m] trying to get sustainability out there,” she said. “It’s a Worlds Ahead initiative.”
That sentiment was echoed by other students.
“I want to get the department out there,” said Campus Life student assistant Michael Aquino
Added Christine Pardo, who also works in the nature preserve, “We are a community.”