Like groundhogs, some of the university's important behind-the-scenes individuals took a moment recently to poke their heads out and be recognized.
The event was the 2000 JHU Student Employee of the Year awards ceremony, held April 5 in the Garrett Room of the MSE Library at Homewood. The eighth annual ceremony was part of National Student Employee Appreciation Week, an event whose purpose is to enhance awareness of student employment and the important role it plays in higher education.
Campus jobs are held by roughly 3,700 Homewood undergraduate and graduate students, a work force without which many of the university's offices, programs and departments could not operate, said Jerome Schnydman, executive assistant to the president, who spoke at the event.
Schnydman also offered how important campus employment is for the students. "My sense is that sometimes students take as much from their mentors where they work as they do from other aspects of their education," he said.
The annual weeklong celebration includes daily prizes, contests and food and culminates with the Employee of the Year ceremony. This year, 14 individuals and five departmental student groups were honored, with the Student Employee of the Year Award going to Dmitry Sergeevich Ruban, a junior majoring in neuroscience. Ruban, who works at the Center for Technology in Education, received a $500 savings bond and will compete in the state and regional Employee of the Year contests sponsored by the National Student Employee Association.
New to the event this year was the awarding of a second prize, which went to Era Hanspal, a senior neuroscience major who works in the Psychiatry Department at the Bayview campus, and a third prize, accepted by Takahiro Ariga, a senior computer engineering major and an employee of the Biology Department. Cash prizes for second and third place were $100 and $50, respectively.
Group awards went to Career Planning and Development, Office of the Registrar, Special Events, Student Activities and Security.
Judges were all Hopkins alumni: Graham Bouton, technology services administrator in Hopkins Information Technology Services; Lydia B. Hoover, an attorney at Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan and Silver; and Carolyn Furr-Holden, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Public Health.
In addition to Schnydman, other speakers were Furr-Holden, who spoke of her own student employment experience, and Lorna Whalen, dean of admissions and enrollment.
First-place winner Ruban was hired last October by CTE for a tech support position, but his employer decided he had the potential to fill a more pressing need, namely doing cold fusion programming. Cold fusion is a special computer language that allows users to build complex functionality into a website, such as having it interact with a database. Ruban is currently involved in a project aimed at creating an electronic learning community for educators.
Dave Peloff, an instructor in the School of Professional Studies in Business and Education and Ruban's supervisor, said Ruban is a professional and responsible young man who has been "a pleasure to work with."
"I wanted someone with the potential to learn this type of programming, and basically he has just rocked," Peloff said. "He is a very bright and talented student. Not many people know how to do this."
Ruban said he relishes the opportunity to do this high-level programming and that he believes the knowledge will serve him well in the future.
"Actually, it's pretty awesome. You could do just about anything with these skills," Ruban said.
Ruban's next step is medical school. However, he is not concerned about his work cutting into his study time. In fact, he says his student employment experience has only enhanced his grades.
"I did really well last semester," he said. "Working has helped with my study time because it has forced me to schedule it out. I'm much more organized these days."