Student Employee of the Year

Sydne Rensing (left), SIU Carbondale’s 2016 Student Employee of the Year, with her supervisor, Beth Alongi, marketing assistant director at the Student Center. (Photo by Steve Buhman)

March 30, 2016

University honors outstanding student employees

by Andrea Hahn

CARBONDALE, Ill. – Southern Illinois University Carbondale honored outstanding student employees with a reception and award presentation on Tuesday, March 29, in appreciation of the contributions they make to the university. 

Sydne N. Rensing, a senior from Albers, majoring in speech communication with a specialization in public relations, is this year’s Student Employee of the Year. Desiree Wordlaw, a junior from Chicago, majoring in Communications Disorders and Sciences, is the runner-up. 

Rensing works as a marketing assistant for the Student Center. She was nominated by Beth Alongi, marketing assistant director for the Student Center. 

“Sydne has been on fire since the day she walked in the door,” Alongi said of Rensing in her nomination letter. She said Rensing is a reliable and energetic self-starter with excellent ideas and an ability to work creatively on a limited budget. 

“She is 100 percent personality and has never met a stranger,” Alongi said, praising Rensing’s people skills. “Her personable and magnetic personality sets her apart from any student in this position so far. Her engagement at our promotion tables even caught the eye of a community member who wrote a letter endorsing Sydne’s professional abilities.” 

As part of her position, Rensing represents the Student Center at events such as open houses and new student orientations. She is the Student Center’s social media consultant, and gives feedback on postings and other interactions as a student eye on the information sent out and the manner in which it is delivered. 

Rensing is also a consistent presence on the Dean’s List and is on track to finish her undergraduate degree in three years. She studied abroad in Grenoble, France, and received a certificate in marketing and international marketing as part of that study. She is vice president of the Registered Student Organization Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) for the second year. She plans all the main events and social activities with the help of a committee she oversees. 

Rensing is a member of the Association of College Unions International, and a past member of Styling for a Cause, a Registered Student Organization that helps people dress for better employment on a budget. She is on the Saluki Strength Breast Cancer Scholarship Committee. She co-supervises a new internship program called Student Center Ambassadors, which teaches undergraduate event volunteers marketing skills and professionalism. She was also a member of the SIU Tennis Club, and is currently involved with SIU’s intermural volleyball team. 

“Sydne is willing to take on any job and does it to her fullest ability with a positive attitude,” Alongi said. “She is the epitome of what a Saluki should be and is definitely worthy of the title ‘Student Employee of the Year.’” 

“I really appreciate the good morale, the words of wisdom and the inspiration,” Rensing said. “I’ve never worked anywhere before where the people were so inspiring.” 

Wordlaw is a receptionist at the Evaluation and Development Center, nominated by Colleen Kuczynski, a rehabilitation administration specialist at the center. She praised Wordlaw’s organizational initiative and willingness to mentor EDC residents. 

“Recently a client took the time to write a letter to EDC thanking us for the kind treatment and help he had received here,” Kuczynski wrote. “He specifically pointed out the eagerness and positive attitude Desiree exhibited to him.” 

Wordlaw is president of the SIU chapter of the National Black Association of Speech Language and Hearing, a past vice president of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority, and a Land of Lincoln AmeriCorps tutor at Unity Point School for 900 hours. 

Terri Harfst, director of financial aid, emphasized the value that student employees bring to the university, but also the opportunity that comes with such employment for the student. Calling on her own experience as a former employee at the SIU Student Recreation Center, Harfst said she “wrote my entire resume there.” 

Other nominees for the 2016 Student Employee of the Year were:

• Tyler Adams, Torrance, Calif., nominated by Trish Sherk, Cooperative Wildlife Research Lab.

• Miranda Annable, Cypress, nominated by Diane Fritcher, Department of Mathematics.

• Sarah Bennett, Brighton, nominated by Terri Elliott, Department of Computer Science.

• Abigail C. Cohlmeyer, O’Fallon, nominated by Kristen Roberts, Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

• Elijah Fennell, Elkville, nominated by Barbara Tuthill, School of Medicine Administration Core SMC.

• Kelly Glitz, Decatur, nominated by Pam McGuire, University Housing.

• Jacob Greer, Carterville, nominated by Mary Kappel, Aerospace Studies – Air Force ROTC.

• Mallory Hopkins, Polo, nominated by Susan Graham, College of Agricultural Sciences.

• Paige M. Logan, Johnston City, nominated by Marge Smith, marketing.

• Chris Longo, Earlville, nominated by Casey Kidd, Physical Plant Service.

• Tristan Lovecamp, Springfield, nominated by Paige Lappe, Center for English as a Second Language.

• Anna Metzger, Oak Lawn, nominated by Marsha Morgenstern, ASA Aviation Management and Flight.

• Meganmae Palagio, Carbondale, nominated by Beth Chester, General Counsel and Legal Affairs.

• Salena Ramsey, Schaumberg, nominated by Susan Doolin, School of Art and Design.

• Ryan Tomlinson, Crete, nominated by Stephen Hall, Campus Mail Service.