Student-employees comprise about one-third of the university’s workforce, and more than 160 of them were nominated for the 2015 Student Employee of the Year award.
For the first time, nominees’ accomplishments were so impressive, the committee decided to announce five honorable mentions in addition to the five awards given each year.
But one student-employee, Parkview Hall resident assistant Boris Gilles, outshined all the other nominees.
“As an international student, he knows all too well the importance of embracing others’ differences, as well as what makes us unique and special,” said emcee Felecia Townsend, building up anticipation as she revealed details of the winner.
Gilles’ supporters from Housing and Residential Life, seated right in the front row, cheered as he received his award, running up to the stage to hug and congratulate him.
“I just have to thank God for this, you know?” Gilles said. “Obviously, I put in work for it, but without Him, I wouldn’t have gotten it.”
Gilles, a double major in finance and international business from Haiti, began working as a desk assistant for Parkview Hall in fall 2013 and stepped in as resident assistant when a position opened up in January.
“The residents love him. Anybody who visits the building likes to say hi to him,” said Residence Life coordinator Hannah Black, who nominated Gilles for the award.
Despite taking on the role mid-year, Gilles excelled as a resident assistant and has become a leader among Parkview’s staff.
“In some aspects, the other staff members who have been here since September look up to him for ideas,” said Black.
The Student Employee of the Year award is no ordinary commendation. Gilles’ prizes included $500 cash, a two-night stay at the Westin Diplomat Resort and Spa, a champagne brunch for two at the Biltmore Hotel, two airline tickets, a guaranteed campus parking space and more.
“I’m going to strive for the best and try to outdo myself now,” Gilles said of his future as a resident assistant.
Four runners-up for SEOTY were also announced, earning prizes that included cash, gift certificates, hotel stays, leather messenger bags and more.
The runners-up were Kirby Brennan from the FIU Applied Research Center, Sasha Espinola from the office of International Student and Scholar Services, Tamika Duffus from Housing and Residential Life, and Ramon Rodrigues Parades from the Department of Parking and Transportation.