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Top U. of I. student employees honored

4/25/2011 | Ben Hoppe, Office of Student Financial Aid | 217-333-7540;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — University of Illinois students were honored recently at the annual Student Employment Recognition Event sponsored by the Office of Student Financial Aid.

The 2011 Student Employee of the Year is Neha Mehra, of Chicago, a senior in journalism, employed with the Illinois Leadership Center. She also was named the State of Illinois Student Employee of the Year by the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators. This is the second time since the university began declaring a Student Employee of the Year that the campus winner was named the statewide winner.

“Meha’s contribution to this office and position are irreplaceable,” said nominator Kirstin Phelps, the program director at the Illinois Leadership Center.

The runner-up was Brian Towell, a junior in molecular and cellular biology and in chemistry from Elburn, Ill., employed by the comparative biosciences department in the College of Veterinary Medicine.  The honorable mention winners were Muhammad Arba’in, a senior in finance, employed by Applied Technology for Learning in the Arts and Sciences, and Katherine Cash, a senior in psychology and in anthropology from Champaign, employed by the Illini Union Hotel.   
Student Employee of the Year nominations were solicited from the Urbana campus and evaluated on the following criteria: reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism and uniqueness of contribution. 

Nineteen student employees were nominated. The campus winner was then forwarded on for state, regional and national consideration. The honorees received scholarships ranging from $150 - $400.  The winner and runner-up also received Illini Union Bookstore gift cards donated by the Illini Union.   

The America Reads/America Counts “Tutor of the Year” nominees were nominated by teachers in the Champaign and Urbana school districts and evaluated on the same criteria as Student Employee of the Year plus length of time with the program.  This year, 21 students were nominated and a winner was selected for each school district. 

The Champaign America Reads/America Counts Tutor of the Year was Yuyi Li, of Chicago, a junior majoring in East Asian languages and cultures from Chicago, who tutors at Jefferson Middle School. The Urbana America Reads/America Counts Tutor of the Year was Evelin Echeverria, a senior majoring in Spanish from Chicago, tutoring at Washington Early Childhood Center.  Each received a $500 scholarship. 

The America Reads/America Counts Program is a Federal Work-Study-funded tutoring program that hires undergraduates to work with students in reading and math.  Program participants are paid through the program as a part of their financial aid package. 

On average, 325 tutors are employed with the program every semester, making it one of the largest America Reads/America Counts Federal Work-Study Programs in the U.S.  Tutoring sites include all public early, elementary and middle schools in Champaign and Urbana as well as Urbana Adult Education, Gerber School and after-school programs with the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club, the Regional Office of Education and Orchard Downs family housing on campus. 

At Illinois, more than 10,200 undergraduates participate in the student employment program each year, earning nearly $26.3 million annually. Student employees are an important human resource of the university and are crucial for maintaining the day-to-day operations in on-campus offices, departments and laboratories as well as performing community service work with approved off-campus agencies.

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