The top two UGA Student Employees of the Year are from Public Service and Outreach units.
Aiden Holley, an intern with Campus Kitchen at UGA, part of the Office of Service-Learning, was the first place finisher in the awards competition, sponsored by the UGA Career Center. Second place went to Sahar Tejani, who coordinates the Summer Academy at UGA, academic-focused camps for youth ages 11-17, at the UGA Center for Continuing Education & Hotel.
Student employees each year are nominated by their supervisors for Student of the Year. The top 100 are invited to a luncheon, held this year on April 12 in the Tate Center Grand Hall.
Only the top three student employees are ranked. Also on the list of 100 from Public Service and Outreach are Jordan Collins and Robert Hines from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, and Jacob Dixon, from the Small Business Development Center.
Holley, who will graduate with a degree in international affairs in May before heading to Germany for graduate school, is eligible for a regional competition. Winners there will go on to compete for National Student Employee of the Year Award, sponsored by the National Student Employment Association.
“I’m about to graduate, so this is kind of like icing on the cake,” Holley said. “Working with Campus Kitchen has been pivotal in my college experience. It’s definitely a defining experience.”
Holley has been an intern with Campus Kitchen at UGA, a student-powered hunger relief program, since February 2015. The senior leads volunteer shifts, comes up with new program ideas and has been deeply involved in a community partnership with the Athens Community Council on Aging (ACCA). In the last fiscal year alone, Holley helped with the logistics of turning 48,000 pounds of food into 13,000 meals for food-insecure older adults.
Holley coordinates Takeout Tuesday, a joint program between Campus Kitchen at UGA and the ACCA, which delivers 800 meals to 45 families each month. He plays a critical role in securing produce for those meals by working directly with UGArden, a student-run farm, and the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia. In 2015, he directed the entire program after the ACCA unexpectedly lost a staff member.
“Aiden is the backbone of this organization,” said Brad Turner, Campus Kitchen UGA coordinator. “He’s unflappable and poised to overcome any obstacles that arise when cooking for 150 people.”
Tejani, a junior who expects to graduate in December with a degree in early childhood education, has been director of the Georgia Center’s Summer Academy for two years, coordinating camps that draw more than 700 students to the UGA campus over 42 days in the summer. She helped coordinate the hiring process for staff and instructors, did analysis on the program’s budget and handled discipline during the camp.
“It’s insane because I wasn’t expecting to be in the top three,” she said. “It’s not just about the recognition but showing what our team does on a daily basis for the parents and students who attend camp. It’s a good feeling.”
Tejani crafted a financial aid program that provided over $20,000 to campers who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. She prepared grant applications to expand that support in the future in hopes of providing aid that covers the entire cost of attendance for the most needy students.
“Sahar has been an absolute superstar on our team,” said Brian Stone, Georgia Center program coordinator. “She’s taken on responsibilities well beyond what many students are asked to do.”