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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 12, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 30
Rite of Spring: JHU Honors Student Workers and Employers

Student Employer of the Year: Deborah Savage of Student Technology Services

By Amy Cowles

With just two full-time employees, Homewood's Office of Student Technology Services makes the most of its student workers. Likewise, the student workers say they've come to rely on their director, Deborah Savage, for her knowledge, interpersonal skills and sense of humor.

They are qualities that led five student workers to nominate Savage for Student Employer of the Year. The judges concurred and gave her the title at a ceremony on April 7 in Levering's Great Hall as part of National Student Employee Appreciation Week, which aims to enhance awareness of student employment and the important role it plays in higher education.

Savage appeared blown away by the honor.

"I'm so surprised," Savage said after the ceremony. "I've been doing what I do for almost 11 years, and these kids are so amazing. We depend on them to do a lot of different things."

"Debbie has been a great role model to us," wrote student consultant Sarah Sundelacruz, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, in her nomination of Savage. "She really cares about what our department does, and this motivates us to do our jobs well. ... She makes us feel that we are valued not only for the work that we do but also for the people that we are."

This year's Student Employee of the Year, Oliver Buccicone, is also known for his people skills. A jack-of-all-trades in Homewood's Ralph S. O'Connor Recreation Center, he's a building manager, fitness and weight room supervisor, maintenance technician and emergency supervisor. Much of his time is spent overseeing the work of his fellow student workers, a role he says he finds more comfortable now that he is a senior.

"I'm a stickler for details," Buccicone said. "I see what I do as just doing my job."

Student Employee of the Year: Oliver Buccicone with Recreation's Paul Jacobus

Buccicone, an electrical engineering major, approached Paul Jacobus, assistant director of the Office of Recreation for facilities, about a job right after the recreation center opened two years ago.

"He told me that he liked to fix stuff and that he was an extremely hard worker and one of the things he hated most was when employees slack off when there is work to be done," Jacobus said. He hired Buccicone to be a monitor in the fitness and weight room. Soon people were raving about Buccicone to Jacobus, who then created a supervisory role for his star student.

Buccicone's responsibilities grew to the point where "he is me when I'm not around," said Jacobus, who took second place in the employer category. "This winter, Oliver came in to work four times at 5:30 a.m. to open up the building, find staff to work and shovel or clear walkways for easy safe passage. The one day the university completely closed for snow, Oliver worked until midnight, at the security desk, in the equipment room, weight room and fitness center. He worked wherever and in whatever capacity that was needed."

It seems Buccicone's work ethic is contagious: As a team, the Office of Recreation received one of the group recognition awards. Group awards were also given to the Counseling Center; Milton S. Eisenhower Library; Office of Annual Giving; the Registrar's Office; and Security, Parking and Transportation.

Thirty-six students and 43 employers were nominated for this year's individual awards. In addition, seven departments were honored at the ceremony. Buccicone received a $500 savings bond. He also received a citation from Gov. Robert Ehrlich and will compete for the Student Employee of the Year award on the state level.

Second place in the student category went to Susanna Blume, a junior majoring in international relations, who works in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Lillian Patience Boudreaux, a senior majoring in psychology, took third place for her work in the Dean's Office at the Whiting School. And fourth place went to Amanda Johnson, a senior majoring in classics, who is an office assistant in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Each runner-up received a savings bond and commemorative T-shirt.

In the Employer of the Year category, third place went to university chaplain Sharon Kugler of Campus Ministries. James Garmon, senior instrument designer in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, took fourth place.

Judges for the student awards were Kugler, Kathi Strasser of University Administration, C. Anne Pliska of the Office of Business Management, and Ravi Stewart, a junior majoring in international studies. Judges for the employer awards were undergraduates Stewart, Maria Malbroux and Kemi Tomobi; and Ishwaria Mohan, a graduate student.


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