FIU names 2016 Student Employee of the Year

Jobs on campus are useful tools for students looking to earn money and gain real-world experience while they study without having to travel far from school. But for Bianca Gutierrez, winner of the 2016 Student Employee of the Year award, working in the Office of Alumni Relations & Annual Giving for the past year has meant so much more.

Bianca Gutierrez

Bianca Gutierrez

Being a member of the team charged with promoting the Ignite Campaign, FIU’s internal fundraising campaign, has helped her realize her dream of working in the nonprofit sector where she plans to advocate for women’s rights.

Gutierrez, a senior majoring in communication arts, works closely with other student employees to support the Annual Giving team at Ignite events, process pledge cards, interact with donors and more. The opportunity has provided her with valuable insight into a potential career in fundraising.

“What I do here parallels what I want to do later in the nonprofit sector,” Gutierrez said. “I’m really proud of my team. I’m really proud of the campaign I work for. I think I owe the entire positive experience to where I work. Everyone does a really good job of making coming to work fun and sporting the FIU spirit.”

Adding to her accomplishments—and her busy schedule—Gutierrez, a member of the Honors College, took the lead in coordinating the college’s Aesthetics and Values art exhibit this year.

Development officer Joaklin Raphael, who nominated Gutierrez for the SEOTY award and accepted it in her place when she could not attend the ceremony, said in his submission there is no task she finds daunting.

“She is always a professional influence on the office as a whole,” Raphael wrote. “This past year we had record-breaking numbers at both of our events, and it was largely because of her.”

SEOTY is part of a national student employee recognition program introduced to FIU by Jaffus Hardrick, vice president for the Division of Human Resources, when he came to the university eight years ago.

“This is really a way to recognize our outstanding student employees,” Hardrick said. “It’s a way of helping to develop future leaders in our nation and develop the skills they’re going to need to enter the 21st century workforce.”

The Great Gatsby-themed event featured a brunch reception and a photo booth, followed by “The Power of the Look,” a spring fashion show by Ann Taylor demonstrating the dos and don’ts of work attire for young professionals.

Working on campus offers students the “opportunity to go beyond the classroom and focus on the early stages of professional development,” Travis Stokes, a Parking and Transporting coordinator, said during the ceremony’s opening remarks.

The SEOTY awards ceremony, which took place April 15 in the GC ballrooms, is the culmination a weeklong celebration of FIU’s student employees, who make up about one-third of the university’s workforce. SEOTY week’s events include a social media contest, an office decoration contest and more.

2016 SEOTY honorees include:

2016 Student Employee of the Year:
– Bianca Gutierrez, Office Alumni Relations & Annual Giving

2016 Social Media Campaign award winner:
– Paula Mora, College of Business

2016 SEOTY runners-up:
– Eric Duran, Housing & Residential Life
– Lily Peterson, Housing & Residential Life
– Andres Castellanos, FIU Foundation
– TruLe’sia Newberry, Women’s Center

2016 SEOTY honorable mentions:
– Jordan Eugene, Wolfe University Center
– Izima Kalao, Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management
– Kerrina O’Connor, Office of Financial Aid