Student Employee of the year - 2023

Student Employee of the Year


The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, in conjunction with the National Association of Student Employment Administrators, is holding its 34th annual Student Employee of the Year Program.

Each year, one outstanding UCCS student employee is chosen as Student Employee of the Year. The selected student receives a $200 award from the Student Employment Office and is entered in the regional and state competitions.

Click here to see past winners!

2023 Student Employee of the year

Sana Hamad

Sana epitomizes dedication to student success, faculty and staff support, and commitment to quality in both the mechanical engineering department and UCCS. I consider Sana exemplary in every aspect, and am actively encouraging her to consider graduate school in a selfish attempt to keep her working for us as long as possible! Sana’s natural mentoring has had a significant impact on students campus wide. As coordinator for MAE advising, I tend to get anecdotal feedback from students on our staff.

Student Employee of the year
Sana has a reputation amongst the students for being the one to go to when they have questions or need help with anything. Sana is the best at setting aside her personal biases, asking as many questions as needed to fully understand issues and tasks, and then complete them at a level of expertise of a long-term staff member Sana recognized that our help center tutors needed more orientation so took it upon herself to develop a process to welcome them, address their concerns, and make them welcome and confident in their role.




Natalie Martinez
Natalie Martinez

Natalie has done an excellent job this year in her role as the MOSAIC Success Coach. Her role requires that she work closely with Whitley Hadley in the MOSAIC & LGBTQ+ Resource Center as well as myself in the First Year Experience Office. Throughout the past 6 months, Natalie has been working with a cohort of students to help them be successful during their time here at UCCS. Not only has she met the expectations of her role in caring for these students and helping with different initiatives Whitley and I have, but she has also risen above and taken a leadership role on my team. She accepted the responsibility of leading and representing FYE in a GPS course this spring. In this task she has organized the materials to give to students, planned the presentation, and reached out to her peers giving them the opportunity to participate as well. She also has been actively involved in making our Learning Communities in FYE better through critically thinking about how to engage students in new and exciting ways. She shared some of these ideas with our team and lead this discussion in our team meeting. The team was excited about these ideas and next week we will be talking about how to implement some of them into the semester.

James Gray
James Gray

In particular, James continuously leads and inspires our entire Dean’s Office staff to center accessibility. The most impactful example of this was when he noticed that our public-facing Open House event was not accessible to folks with mobility issues, since the main route from the parking lot to the Engineering building includes stairs. Without being asked, James then spent his entire workday collecting details needed to create accessible instructions for getting to our building. Even though it was snowy and bitter cold outside, James graciously took the time to walk to the parking garage to map out elevator and ramp access. Without his distinguished initiative and dedication, multiple folks with wheelchairs and walkers may not have been able to attend our Open House. He selflessly used his own professional and life experience to empathize with and prioritize people whose needs are often pushed to the sidelines. By taking action, James exhibited the UCCS Core Value of Inclusive Diversity to hundreds of people.

Leah Tamarez
Leah Tamarez

Leah has consistently gone above and beyond in her work at the Graduate School. Leah’s main duties include data processing for applications to our many graduate programs and certificates, responding to students via email, phone, or in-person. She is always willing to step in and help cover when we are short on staff or need additional help. She has trained multiple individuals on the front desk duties and recently served on a search committee as a diversity champion for an open position in the Graduate School. Leah has been a great contributor to improving our processes in the Graduate School and takes the initiative to make suggestions when she sees that something can be done more efficiently. In the Graduate School, Leah is often one of the first individuals that students speak with, and she always demonstrates great customer service with her kind and helpful attitude. One example of Leah’s commitment to her community is that she was on shift the night of the Club Q shooting and provided services in the emergency room to members of the community that were at the club. During a very tragic event, Leah was there to help and serve her community. We are so grateful for Leah in the Graduate School, and I know that even after Leah graduates, her contributions will continue to benefit UCCS and the Colorado Springs community.

Emily VanGundy
Emily VanGundy

Emily is driven to contribute. When she sees a task that needs completed, she strives to complete that task with accuracy, efficiency, and success. During our busy fall season we really saw Emily shine. She would often come in and challenge herself to complete as many entries as possible. Statistics show that she completed nearly four times more entry than the next closest student employee in our office during that busy season alone. She helped our office meet deadlines and helped ensure student employees on campus were able to begin their new positions in a timely manner. This helped our office, student employees, and employers across campus have a positive experience. Emily’s work continues to contribute to positive employment experiences for all those she interacts with, even if only via paperwork. I am continually amazed at the initiative Emily takes to find tasks when needed and more so her innate desire to challenge herself to do more than expected in any given shift.

Nominating a Student

Supervisors may nominate any number of student employees for Student Employee of the Year by submitting a Campus Nomination Form and a one page Submission Letter. Up to three letters of reference may also be submitted and will be used in judging the UCCS competition only.

Return the completed forms to the Student Employment Office by 4:00pm, Friday, February 2, 2024. (the Campus Nomination Form and one page Submission Letter are word documents which should be completed and submitted via the Campus Nomination Form link and adding attachments.  Late nomination forms will not be accepted.

Students must meet the following criteria in order to be nominated:

  1. Students must be work study, hourly or salaried student
    employees at UCCS.
  2. Students must have completed or expect to complete at least
    six months of part-time or three months of full-time employment
    with UCCS between July 1, 2023 and June 30, 2024.
  3. Students must be in a UCCS degree program and enrolled in at least a half-time
    credit load for both fall and spring terms.

The Student Employment Advisory Committee will select the winner.