Student Employment

Student Employment

Thursday, April 14, 2011

DU Names Student Employee, Student Team of the Year

His resume rivals some professionals twice his age.
By June, the 23-year-old will have earned a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and a master’s degree in Business Administration. Somehow, he found time last quarter to work 20 hours a week, complete a full load of courses, and launch and maintain an entire social media network for a national diversity training company. He helped nearly double participation in a University of Denver diversity retreat in less than two years. If you don’t know his name, you should. Meet Joel Portman, the 2011 DU Student Employee of the Year.
University of Denver Director of Financial Aid Chris George announced the winner of the annual title Wednesday at the Ice Cream Social Awards Ceremony in the Gottesfeld Room of the Ritchie Center. The Math Department Team – comprised of Sarah Caulkins, Nikki Chen, Grace Horwath, Juan Valles and Molly Webber – was named Student Team of the Year. 
For the last two years, Portman has built a foundation of practical knowledge in diversity issues as a program coordinator at the Center for Multicultural Excellence at DU. Prior to joining the staff, the St. Louis native volunteered his time at the center.
“Joel is mature, wise, and professional beyond his years,” according to his supervisors, Johanna Leyba,  the Assistant Provost for Inclusive Excellence, and Thomas Walker, Program Director of Intergroup Relations  & LGBTIQ. “Many people on and beyond the campus have assumed he was a full-time, veteran staff member based on how he carries himself and represents the university.”
When the Center for Multicultural Excellence lost an assistant director last spring, it was Portman who filled the gap, ensuring the center’s major projects – the Diversity Summit, Voices of Discovery Intergroup Dialogue Program and Diversity and Unity Retreat – had proper administrative support.
His employment has been an integral part of his learning experience at DU. “I’m able to bring a different perspective to the table (in class),” he says. Even better in his eyes: “The work I’m doing here impacts the entire campus.”
Plus, “CME is more like a family than an office,” Portman says. While CME staff keeps work fun, they confront serious social justice issues, often involving issues of identity, ethnicity, sexual orientation and privilege. One of their goals is to create a more welcoming campus. Joel wants to extend that mission to the larger, business world.
The Eagle Scout and former Hillel staffer says he feels obligated to use his privileges – as an educated, white male – to shape a more equitable world.
“My theory is there is a lot of potential in this world,” Portman says. “I’ll do whatever I can do to make sure everyone has an equal part at the table.”

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Essential Pieces: The Math Department Team

These nominees for Student Team of the Year have a formula for success. Earlier this year, the Math Department student employees ensured an important tenure and promotion deadline for faculty was met, according to their four nominators. They also performed essential in-take duties for the math class of 2014.

The assistants serve as "the face of the department" to visitors and telephone callers, according to nominator Don Opplinger, a math course coordinator. They also act as greeters and essential support staff at national and international conferences. Sarah Caulkins, Nikki Chen, Grace Horwath, Molly Webber and Juan Valles "have office schedules that generally don't intersect, yet they communicate with one another through a series of emails and sticky notes. This enables them to work effectively toward common goals," observes nominator Liane Beights, assistant to the department chair. Beights also notes that Sarah, a math major, devotes her extra time to tutoring other students in calculus and Grace created a entire book of policies, procedures and instructions for future Math Department employees. Cheers to this successful team!

Essential Pieces: Volunteers in Partnership

The DU students behind Volunteers in Partnership have a bold mission. They devote their time to students, parents, faculty and staff from eight Denver area middle and high schools in an effort to promote self esteem in students and encourage them to seek higher education or career training. The program's motto is "students helping students." Their devotion led to their nomination for Student Team of the Year.

"These (DU) students are dedicated to both the community and the DU campus. They go above and beyond their job responsibilities and volunteer their time and effort to do community service," remarks their nominator, Carole Burgess, the Assistant Director of Special Community Programs at DU. A big applause for the force behind Volunteers In Partnership!