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Faculty/Student Awards | University News | Human Resources

UCM Junior from Sweet Springs Receives Top Student Employee Award

By Jeff Murphy, April 9, 2024


From left, three University of Central Missouri students, McKenna Strodtman, Kara Henderson and Donavan Hoyes, display certificates and trophies they received as top honorees during the Student Employee of the Year award ceremony at the James C. Kirkpatrick Library read and relax area.

WARRENSBURG, MO – Donavan Hoyes, a junior accounting major from Sweet Springs, has received the top honor in an annual program that recognizes exemplary student employees at the University of Central Missouri. Hoyes received the Student Employee of the Year award in the ceremony conducted on April 8 by UCM’s Office of Human Resources.

The event, which took place during National Student Employment Week, also recognized two other students as second- and third-place honorees in a field of 16 students who were nominated for awards. Joining Hoyes was the second-place award recipient, Kara Henderson, a senior fashion major from Raytown, Missouri, and the third-place honoree, McKenna Strodtman, a senior criminal justice major from Columbia, Missouri. They represent the top student employees at an institution that employs 945 part-time student workers.

UCM President Roger Best presented the student awards. Each of the top three honorees received a trophy, certificate, and a sponsored financial award. All other nominees received certificates.

In his remarks, Best praised the students for their role in doing “the great work we do every day in redefining what’s possible for all of our students, and our faculty and staff.”

Cory Wicker, associate vice president for human resources, said students being recognized “embody the spirit of excellence within our UCM community.”

“In our role in higher education, this moment stands as a testament to the dedication and excellence that define our institution…without our dedicated staff and their tireless accomplishments and our students’ accomplishments, our institution’s vision would not thrive as it does,” Wicker told the gathering during the award ceremony in the James C. Kirkpatrick Library. 

The top selections for the Student Employee of the Year awards were based on nominations submitted by faculty and staff members who represent campus units in which each student was employed. In naming the honorees, award committee members considered criteria related to community service, diversity and inclusion, leadership, technology, innovation, and critical thinking.

UCM’s Office of Human Resources coordinates the awards ceremony. Three organizations outside of campus provided financial support for monetary awards given to the first-, second-, and third-place honorees. As the first-place award recipient, Hoyes received a $500 prize made possible by Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Henderson received a $250 award sponsored by McConnell & Associates; and Strodtman received a $100 prize from Missouri Division of Social Services. Representatives of all of these organizations where there to help honor the award winners.

According to nomination documents submitted on behalf of the award winners, all three of them have had a positive impact on the offices that employee them, and they exemplify characteristics of individuals for whom the awards are intended.

Hoyes has served as a student employee in the Office of Human Resources since July 2023. In this capacity, he is in a front-facing position that enables him to engage with many different individuals from diverse backgrounds, both inside and outside of the university.

Professional colleagues who nominated Hoyes noted that “he is always very professional, kind, and understanding to anyone who enters our office for assistance” and “he creates a welcoming space for everyone on campus.”

While exhibiting qualities of a strong business leader, Hoyes has demonstrated the ability to inspire and guide others toward common goals. He is an advocate for diversity and consistently seeks ways to promote understanding and unity among his peers. As an example, he works with many international students who experience issues ranging from finding student employment to obtaining required documentation for hire. Hoyes' co-workers state that he listens to these students’ concerns and effectively communicates in ways that put them at ease while helping them navigate unfamiliar processes.

Hoyes’ leadership qualities that have made him the go-to student worker for training other students, and he has had the opportunity to extend his support to professional workers, including helping two new hires in the office to learn about the filing and imaging process.

Outside the office, he has mentored incoming freshman students who have expressed an interest in accounting, in addition to serving as treasurer for the Student Government Association.   

Henderson joined the Career and Life Design Center in October 2022, and her leadership skills led to her becoming the lead Professional Clothing Studio Assistant. In this capacity she is part of a free service to students that provides clothing items to support their efforts to engage in activities that will prepare them for professional careers. More than 1,400 students have utilized this service and more than 4,100 articles of clothing have been distributed to fulfill needs for professional attire, whether it is to dress for an interview or attend a special event.

“Kara’s commitment to ensuring that every student feels valued and empowered through their experience at the Studio is why she is incredible in her role as the Lead Professional Clothing Studio Assistant,” her nominator stated. “By creating a welcoming and supportive environment, she has not only helped students acquire appropriate attire but also boosted their confidence and readiness for various opportunities such as interviews, internships, and next steps after UCM.”

Henderson’s colleagues noted that during her first year as a student employee, she single-handedly managed the studio. She oversaw its operating hours, spearheaded marketing efforts that help reflect a welcoming atmosphere at the center for all students, and coordinated donations. As the demand for this service has grown, this fall the Career and Life Design Center recruited an assistant whom Henderson mentored, trained, and collaborated with to develop a comprehensive strategy for the Studio.

An example of her  leadership skills, Henderson, in cooperation with representatives of the university’s Fashion program, orchestrated two successful Styling events to elevate the Studio’s visibility at UCM.  She has also leveraged technology to aid students through the browsing and selection process of clothing items, aid in accepting donations, and to monitor popular items.   

Setting a great example as a student leader who helps other students, McKenna Strodtman has served as a student employee at the Success Advising Center since January 2022.  She is one of three Senior Academic Success Coaches who provides support for approximately 250 undergraduate students who are majoring in diverse disciplines. She also actively engages in the campus community through her role as mentor for the UNIV 1400 (University Foundations) and as a teaching assistant for UNIV 1410 (Exploring Majors and Careers) and UNIV 1620 (Reset for Success) courses.  Students who have interacted with Strodtman have praised her “personable, kind and relatable” approach that has made them feel comfortable and university life much less intimidating, according to employees at the Succes Advising Center.

As a peer mentor and teaching assistant, Strodtman has considerable one-on-one interaction with students throughout the semester, which enables her to help them with goal setting, time management, organization, resource referral and success strategies. Helping other students to stay on track for graduation, she works closely with new freshmen, transfer students and students in at-risk populations, and encourages them individually to visit with her.

A nominator in the Success Advising Center stated, McKenna’s compassionate approach, coupled with her listening ear, empathy, and unwavering support, has earned her praise from the students she assists, who often return multiple time times to see her due to her helpfulness.”

In addition to her work at the Success Advising Center, Strodtman is active in campus organizations such as Lambda Alpha Epsilon and Alpha Phi Sigma, where she recently engaged with friends in the Adopt-a-Trail program . This is a monthly effort to help clean up areas around Pertle Springs.   



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