She's the reason why you can count on your New York Times
being at the Levering Hall's union desk first thing in the
morning. She's also the reason why when you need to ask the
student working at the union desk a question, there is a student
working at the union desk.
Union desk manager and senior Erika Ward is just one of 1,700 Hopkins undergraduates who work and go to school at this university. Still, she stands out--there's something about her dependability, her cheerful, laid-back but thoroughly organized management skills that makes assistant student activities director Jane Rhyner secretly wish Ward would somehow get held back a year, or better yet, never graduate.
Next week is Student Employment Appreciaton Week, a time to thank the 1,700 undergraduates and 1,400 graduate students who answer our phones, fix our computers, help us with research projects, who keep us young and who remind us every day why we're here in the first place.
This year Ward wins the Student of the Year Award, which includes a university presidential certificate of apprciation, a $200 savings bond and the opportunity to compete on the state and regional levels of the North East Association of Student Employment Administrators. Ward and the 29 other student employee nominees will recognized during a ceremony Tuesday, April 8, from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Great Hall of Levering Hall.
To thank the university's student workers, from April 6 through April 12, Student Employment and Payroll Services will hold events for students including prize drawings, contests, parties and workshops.
"It's important to recognise the work our students do here at the university," said Lynn O'Neil, director of Student Employment and Payroll Services. "There are 3,400 students working for the university this year. Without our student workers, this university would be crippled. "
There are also a number of benefits for students who work during college, added O'Neil. Studies have found that students who work tend to have better retention in college than those who don't. Working offers students a wider array of adult role models, it enhances students' career choices, it strengthens the link between academics and work and, most immediately, it helps ease the financial burden of attending college.
For Ward, she has found that she is happiest when she has a job.
"Last year was the first year I didn't have a job and I think I found that I simply just like having a job," Ward said.
Right now, the award and the glowing references may come in handy as she interviews for a "real job" after graduation. A mathematical sciences major, Ward is interviewing with marketing firms for a career in product analysis. In the back of her mind, she is also playing with the idea of one day attending law school.
Until six years ago when her father retired, Ward was an Air Force brat, never living in one town for more than a couple of years. In fact, her four years at Hopkins is her record for the longest time spent in one town.
All those years of moving around have made Ward a pro at dealing with the unknown and meeting new people and situations. It's very likely one reason she is credited with such an unflappable nature.
"She has this wonderful, easy-going temperament," Rhyner said. "The other students really respect her and are very reliable for her. If someone for some reason is going to miss a shift, they always call ahead of time and work things out with her. I never have to worry about the union desk. Erika has always been one step ahead of me. I can't tell you what a load off my mind it has been this year. The really sad thing is that she's graduating. I wish I had known her longer."
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