Our Nominees for Student Employee of the Year 2016

This Monday kicked off National Student Employment Week. As part of the celebrations, we interviewed several of our student employees who work all over campus, excelling at jobs in customer service, graphic design, and tech help.

Two students in particular--Amanda Sturgill and Philip Barnett--really shine in the work they do for Tech Services.

As such, Technology Services was thrilled to nominate Amanda and Philip for the Office of Student Financial Aid’s (OSFA) Student Employee of Year 2016 award.

Student Employee of the Year is an annual award given to undergraduate student employees for excellence in their jobs. Any undergraduate hourly employee working on campus for at least six months can be nominated. Candidates are evaluated on five categories: reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism, and uniqueness of contributions. To learn more, see https://www.osfa.illinois.edu/types-of-aid/student-employees-of-the-year

What makes Amanda and Philip so awesome? Read on.


Amanda Sturgill

Amanda Sturgill is a graphic designer with the Media, Information, and Communications (MIC) team. She’s a junior and is currently working toward a degree in Graphic Design with a minor in Art Education. She’s worked with Tech Services for almost one year.

Amanda makes beautiful things. Her technical skill and attention to detail are unparalleled, to the extent that she is now spearheading our branding efforts. To get a sense of Amanda’s work, check out the banner image for the Faculty Tech Summit, open the Briefing Book or take a look at the 2015 CIO’s Annual Review.

But Amanda is also an active member of the community. She volunteers with Circle of Friends, an adult day care for people with dementia. She teaches them art, and they teach her sewing. “They bring in pieces that they’ve made several years ago, sometimes twenty or thirty years ago, and share them with me because they know I love sewing,” Amanda says.

This summer, she plans on splitting her time between Tech Services and Fresh Press, where she’ll make paper. She’s also debating whether to spend some time on a farm, doing manual labor.

But rest assured, she’ll be back to designing more amazing things in the fall.

“This is my happy place,” she says of the MIC office. “I get to come here and make things I enjoy making and be with people I enjoy being with. It’s great.”

Being nominated for Student Employee of the Year leaves this talented artist at a loss for words.

“I wish I was better with words, other than it means a whole lot to me. It’s really nice to be recognized for your hard work because, as with anything, there are times where you’ll feel down or in a routine and there’s something that snaps you out of it and then you’re in a really great mood. I’ve been in an amazing mood for days now. I just really appreciate it,” Amanda says with a laugh.


Philip Barnett

Philip Barnett is a team leader with the Help Desk. He’s a senior and is currently finishing up a degree in Aerospace Engineering. He’s worked with Tech Services for 3.5 years.

Philip excels in both lab-based research and working with people. Earlier this semester, his work with microvascular carbon fiber composites was highlighted by the Beckman Institute: http://beckman.illinois.edu/news/2016/03/undergrad-research-barnett.

As much as he loves rockets, Philip is also passionate about helping people.

“Computers have been a hobby of mine for most of my life, and I’ve always enjoyed helping others, so the Help Desk seemed like a natural fit.The opportunity to help people makes me feel good about my work at the end of the day. I especially enjoy the opportunity to help walk-ins, as it adds a nice personal touch. The people I work with are also great, so that’s really just icing on the cake,” he says.

On any given day, you can find Philip in the Help Desk, assisting customers by answering phone calls, responding to emails, and helping people troubleshoot tech problems in person. As a team leader, he has additional responsibilities that include mentoring new student employees, serving as a weekend manager, and devising new solutions to sometimes very old tech problems.

When he graduates, Philip will go on to grad school to pursue a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. He’s currently choosing between three grad schools in three states across the U.S.

But wherever he goes, he’ll take a little bit of the Tech Services experience with him.

“My work at Technology Services certainly has provided a great springboard to other opportunities. It has helped me develop strong customer service skills that are transferrable to any industry. It has also provided many opportunities to learn to troubleshoot problems and find new solutions, a skill which is essential to being a good researcher,” Philip says.

Being nominated for Student Employee of the Year makes an already great job a little shinier for this dedicated student leader.

“I am honored to be nominated for Student Employee of the Year. I absolutely love my job at the Help Desk, so this accolade makes my experience even better,” Philip says.

Congratulations and good luck to our amazing nominees! Thank you for helping Tech Services serve the University of Illinois.