Campus News

Student Employee of the Year awards announced

UGA Student Employee of the Year Esther Kim with nominator Megan Ward, flanked by proud parents Meeran and Chungwoo Kim. (Photo by Elifelet Sanchez-Espinoza)

The award is determined by a 10-member committee of faculty, staff and students

Esther Kim, a fourth-year public relations major from Sugar Hill, is the University of Georgia’s 2023 Student Employee of the Year thanks to her work with Megan Ward, administrative director of the New Media Institute.

“Esther is a critical member and leader of the TEDxUGA steering committee, maintaining communication with students, faculty and staff at UGA,” said Ward.

As curator for TEDxUGA, Kim oversees the development of nine TEDxUGA talks every year, past recordings of which have been viewed collectively more than 5.9 million times online. From ideation to delivery, Kim provides expertise on talk content, structure and messaging. This process takes months of weekly meetings, hard work, deep thought and continuous practice sessions.

As curator, Kim leads the nomination process, which includes hosting information sessions, sorting and distributing submissions to the steering committee and overseeing the selection process. Once finalists are selected, she leads interviews alongside the leadership team.

Ward said, “The work doesn’t end after the event. TEDxUGA post-production includes video editing, submitting and communicating details with the larger TED organization, and reapplying for the annual TEDxUGA license. “Esther effectively communicates with over 75 stakeholders and possesses amazing attention to detail.”

(From left) Team award winners Hannah Kenyon, Wendell Stallings, Benjamin Easter, Aayush Umesh, Kaylee Scott, Katherine Guhl and nominator Kelly Coffman. (Photo by Elifelet Sanchez-Espinoza)

Kim graduates in December 2023 with big hopes for her future. For now, she does critical work with the community as the executive director of the Backpack Project while balancing her on-campus work and rigorous course load.

2023 Student Employee Team Award

A team of six student workers from the UGA Undergraduate Admissions Office received the 2023 Student Employee of the Year Team Award:

  • Aayush Umesh, junior, communication studies, Johns Creek.
  • Benjamin Easter, senior, agricultural communication, Peachtree City.
  • Hannah Kenyon, junior, economics, Alexandria, Virgina.
  • Katherine Guhl, junior, computer science, Brookhaven.
  • Kaylee Scott, junior, public relations, Columbus.
  • Wendell Stallings, senior, real estate, Waynesboro.

The team was recognized for its amazing work amid a record number of applications.

Guest Parker Keiser, UGA Student Employee of the Year second runner-up Emma Bales, and associate director of the Georgia Center for Continuing Education, Kiel Norris. (Photo by Elifelet Sanchez-Espinoza)

“Please don’t let the term ‘intern’ fool you; these students are essentially part-time admissions officers. They are invaluable members of the Office of Undergraduate Admissions team,” said Kelly Coffman, senior assistant director of admissions.

Despite staffing limitations and a 10% increase in first-year applications, this group helps meet the university’s day-to-day needs and coverage demands. Largely serving in a front-facing role, the admissions interns are held to a high standard of professionalism. They are often the first people that prospective students and guests meet when they visit campus.

From June 30 through Dec. 30, 2022, Undergraduate Admissions held 555 unique campus visit experiences which hosted 14,157 prospective students, families and guests. The undergraduate admissions team is responsible for organizing and hosting these events, as well as any post-visit efforts that are necessary.

“They have demonstrated their love for our university through their hard work, dedication and initiative,” said Coffman.

(From left) Career consultant Jessica McLeod-Waddell, Melissa Garber, UGA Student Employee of the Year first runner-up Olivia Sawyer and her mother Stacy Sawyer, and Cara Simmons. (Photo by Elifelet Sanchez-Espinoza)

Additional honorees

First runner-up Olivia Sawyer, state relations intern/student success and advising center lead intern, was nominated by Cara Simmons, Sheri Worthy and Melissa Garber. Second runner-up, Emma Bales, operations management program supervisor for the Georgia Center for Continuing Education & Hotel, was nominated by Jessica Kallay.

About the award

Student Employee of the Year is an annual award determined by a 10-member selection committee that features faculty, staff and student members from across the UGA campus. The committee considers each nominated student based on the National Association of Colleges and Employers competency criteria:

  • Critical Thinking/Problem-Solving.
  • Oral/Written Communications.
  • Teamwork/Collaboration.
  • Digital Technology.
  • Leadership
  • Professionalism/Work Ethic.
  • Career Management.
  • Global/Intercultural Fluency.

 The Student Employee of the Year awards are a creation of the National Student Employment Association, and awards are given out on hundreds of campuses across the nation.