Every semester University Unions hosts a student employee appreciation dinner in the Madison Union Ballroom. This spring semester the long buffet tables were laden with homemade salad, bread, pastas filled with cheese, sausage and all the tomatoes on the eastern seaboard, with of course dessert ending the professional staff-made feast. Once all the student employees from the different units within University Unions, such as UPB, Technology & Design, MAD4U, and Madison Unions Operations settled down to dig into their dinner, Director of University Unions, Dave Barnes, took to the podium.
After introducing himself to the crowd of happily chewing students and professional staff, Barnes told the audience what he was there to do, present the three winners of the Director’s Award. The Director’s Award is given to student employees who embody the University Unions mission with their reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism, and unique contributions. The spring semester of 2017 saw many students be nominated but only three ultimately won the Director’s Award. Tommy Koehler works in Madison Union in Technology & Design as the photography team lead and as a member of the graphic design team, Rebekah Tenney, employed in Madison Union as a student office manager in the University Unions administration office, and Ellie Woolet, who works in Madison Union as an event services and building manager, were the winners.
One by one Director Barnes read out glowing praises about each student winner and then announced their names to a clapping audience. Koehler was one of the first students to be recognized. He was met with resounding applause from the Technology & Design table and a gift of a JMU desk clock. Woolet and Tenney were also given a desk clock and a round of applause from University Unions. Each student brings their hard work, tenacity, dedication, and skills to University Unions, and to JMU.
Tommy Koehler, a rising senior in the school of media arts and design with a concentration in converged media, was un-expectantly flattered to win the award. “Working as a student employee at TAD (Technology & Design) has defined my university experience. It allows me to improve my skills outside of the classroom, give back to the JMU community, and work in a fun atmosphere with my coworkers I can now call my friends.”
Koehler is ever humble about his contributions to the Union. He says that working at TAD and for University Unions, “reminds me that I can be part of something bigger. It is a privilege to work for a school that has given me so much, so it’s nice to be able to give something back that makes a difference.”
Each student winners’ name will be immortalized forever on the wall outside Technology & Design in Madison Union, printed in JMU purple and mounted to a plaque with 33 names of previous student winners. University Unions is truly the heart and soul of JMU, and the student employees inside of it keeping the blood pumping, are the key to the Union.