Yale has selected 10 students to receive the inaugural Y-Work Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student Employees, Yale College Dean Marvin Chun announced on Tuesday.
The Y-Work award, announced this February, was created by the Yale College Dean’s Office and the Office of Undergraduate Financial Aid to “celebrate the many positive experiences of student employment on campus and to highlight great opportunities for and critical contributions by our student employees,” according to its website.
This year, a committee composed of representatives from several Yale College administrative offices and resource centers awarded Raffi Donatich ’19, Maria Eduarda Santana ’20, Benito Flores ’20, Jaster Francis ’20, Cesar Garcia Lopez ’18, Andrew Lingenfelter ’19, Harper Loonsk ’18, Leah Shrestinian ’19, Prawat Trairatvorakul ’18 and Sydney Young ’18. Chun will formally recognize the award recipients and their supervisors at a reception later this month.
“The pool of nominees for the Y-Work Award was very impressive,” said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan. “I think the thing that was most exciting to see was the diversity of roles that students play … combined with the consistency of the praise they received from their supervisors … We read over and over again that the student workers performed on the same level as full-time professional staff, and that colleagues treated the students as equal members of their teams.”
According to Director of Outreach and Communications Mark Dunn, the committee received “dozens of nominations” from a wide range of university departments, offices, residential colleges, museums and resource centers.
All current undergraduates with term-time work experience are eligible for the award, which they can receive if nominated by their supervisors. In their nominations, which this year were due on March 9, the supervisors are expected to both provide basic information about the student’s responsibilities and to highlight examples of the nominee’s notable personal characteristics.
“The committee and I were very pleased with the response from the Yale community,” said Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan. “I think that the Yale College Dean’s Office tapped into something important by offering supervisors the opportunity to nominate student employees, as many supervisors were eager to recognize their student workers. The process also confirmed what I already knew — that Yale students make extraordinary contributions to the Yale community through their on-campus work, and that many jobs provide valuable opportunities for Yale students to develop critical skills and explore professional fields.”
The award recipients this year range from sophomores to seniors and work as college aides, peer tutors, museum assistants and more.
Francis, for instance, is a student work leader in Stacks Operation at the Sterling Memorial Library. He said he is a part of “an amazing team” working to maintain the library collection. Francis’ supervisor, Sterling’s Collection Maintenance Manager Anthony Riccio, described him as mature “well beyond his years” and said he exemplified “all the qualities that have made [the] department the productive, cooperative lifeblood of the library system for the last two decades.”
Francis said that he works around 14to 19 hours a week and tries to maximize work hours because his family cannot afford to pay the contribution that his financial aid package requires, and he would not be able to study at Yale otherwise. He is one of the many students at Yale who work to satisfy the student effort portion of their financial aid packages — a sum that students pay to cover indirect expenses, often using savings from a student job. Over the years, many students have opposed the student effort payment, complaining that it effectively forces low-income students to take on time-consuming jobs.
Francis expressed opposition to the policy but added that he was lucky to find a job “that [he] loves” at the library.
“I am happy that the many student workers on this campus are being recognized for their hard work,” he said. “I am very glad to be recognized for my work as a student employee, however, I do hope that one day Yale will implement policies that remove the burdens associated with being required to work regardless of one’s available resources.”
For her part, Santana works as a physics tutor for “University Physics” — the PHYS 180 and 181 classes — a job on which she spends roughly 9 hours a week. She also works an on-campus job in order to satisfy the requirements of her financial aid package.
Still, she said that since she taught physics before coming to Yale, the fact that she could continue doing so at the University was “really gratifying.”
“Now, even though the main purpose is still to complement my financial aid, I have to admit that tutoring became a big part of my Yale experience,” Santana said. “I also like the fact that, as a tutor, I am able to interact with a lot of people and make good friends. … I am honored to receive the Y-Work award, and I hope I can keep working as a tutor for the upcoming years.”
Loonsk, who works as an aide in the Ezra Stiles Head of College Office, said that she applied for the position because she wanted to be more involved with her residential college “and knew this was one of the best ways.”
She added that working in the office was “one of the best parts” of her time at Yale and that, through her job, she has met “the most wonderful staff and coworkers on campus,” whose support and encouragement has “meant the world” to her.
“I decided to nominate Harper because over the course of her three years in the position of Head of College Aide she has had a much greater impact on her residential college community than she realizes,” Loonsk’s supervisor, assistant to the Head of Ezra Stiles College Kathryn Dunn said. “I wanted her to know that the level of dedication, creative thinking and skill she has shown in her time here has left Ezra Stiles College a better place than when she arrived. Her thoughtful attention to detail, infallible dependability and endless creativity has helped us take the programming that comes out of our office to serve the students of Ezra Stiles to a whole other level of professionalism and fun.”
Student minimum wage at Yale for the 2017–18 school year is $12.50.
Anastasiia Posnova | firstname.lastname@example.org