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Senior from Lee’s Summit Claims Top Honor in UCM’s Student Employee of the Year Program

By Jeff Murphy, April 18, 2022

Student Employee of the Year Award recipients, Leslie Perlera-Galvan, third place; Grace Hoffman, first place; and Bethany Spitzmiller, third, on  April 15 were presented trophies and envelopes containing prize information during the 2022 awards program coordinated by the Office of Human Resources.


WARRENSBURG, MO – Three University of Central Missouri students who have served as exemplary part-time employees at UCM have been recognized by the Office of Human Resources as the top three honorees in the Student Employee of the Year program with the top award going to a Kansas City metro area resident.

Grace Hoffman, a senior dietetics major from Lee’s Summit who graduates this May, captured first place in the awards program. The second-place award recipient is Bethany Spitzmiller, a graduate student from Farmington, Missouri, who is completing a Master of Arts in Communication, and Leslie Perlera-Galvan, a senior from Kansas City, Kansas, who is seeking a degree in Fashion: Textiles and Clothing in Business, was third. UCM President Roger Best presented them with their awards during the Student Employee of the Year recognition event April 15 in the Hendricks Hall foyer. 

The top selections for these awards were based on nominations that were submitted by faculty and staff members who represent campus units in which each student was employed. The top three were selected among 12 finalists, based on criteria that included the student’s skills in areas such as communication, digital technology, intercultural fluency, leadership, problem solving, professionalism/work ethic, and team work.

While this annual event is coordinated by Human Resources, financial support is provided by organizations outside of campus which established monetary awards for the first-, second-, and third-pace honorees. Hoffman, as the top award recipient, received a $500 prize made possible by Murdock Banner; Spitzmiller received a $250 award sponsored by McConnell & Associates; and Perlera-Galvan received a $100 prize from Northwestern Mutual.

Hoffman, who served from Feb. 8, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2021 at the Career Services Center, began her work in the office as a front desk assistant. Thanks to her attention to detail and outstanding communication with staff and students, she quickly moved up as the front desk lead.  

“All the students who worked at the front always admired her communication style and it created a positive working environment where they all trusted each other and felt like an effective team,” wrote Jessica Johnson, assistant director of career readiness at the Career Services Center, in her nomination for Hoffman.

While serving in the office, Hoffman used her editing skills for documents and updating marketing materials to efficiently communicate events, services, and information about the center. She also used social media to communicate with students, and created staff introductions through Instagram Reels. Her knowledge of social media helped boost the office’s engagement from 300 followers to nearly 1,100 in only six months, and she also developed an office spreadsheet that that was useful for organization purposes and keeping track of technology tools.

Having a strong work ethic and a professional demeanor, Hoffman took her role as front desk lead seriously, and was a team player who worked hard to assist a variety of constituents including students, faculty, staff, alumni, administrators, prospective students, and employers.  She was welcoming, respectful, and inclusive, according to her nominator, and by her actions she has set an example for which other students in her position should aspire. This included an ability to delegate tasks, and creating a cohesive working environment among front desk staff. This continues today even after she left the office a semester early to accept a full-time role with Saint Luke’s Health System as a Nutritional Health Program Coordinator.

A first-generation college student, Spitzmiller is in her second year of graduate school at UCM and has served as managing editor of The Muleskinner since Aug. 11, 2020. Having strong journalistic skills, she has an instrumental role in leadership for the university’s student-led newspaper with a hand it its content and design and in exercising news judgment. 

“I have been fortunate enough to see the productions that she continues to generate. I have been amazed by how she thrives on working with others within the newsroom and in the field,” noted Julie Lewis, faculty adviser to The Muleskinner, who submitted a nomination letter in support of Spitzmiller.

Lewis added that Spitzmiller is a proven problem solver. Shortly after beginning her job at The Muleskinner, her first major challenge was to navigate through the pandemic, which was just beginning at UCM. During this time, she motivated her managers, editors, and staff to be adaptable and change their focus to an online publication, www.muleskinner She not only led the newsroom through COVID-19 to highlight stories about the struggles campus members faced as this time, but helped to initiate virtual interviewing and editing processes to promote the safety of her student colleagues.

Her determination as an editor and journalist has contributed to an award-winning publication that has been recognized at the state and national level. Along the way, she has worked to build an inclusive atmosphere while establishing healthy core journalism values. Demonstrating her leadership, when The Muleskinner was placed in abeyance a year ago, she ensured structural leadership was enacted to delegate all aspects of the newsroom publication workflow process. She has empowered an Editorial Leadership Board consisting of the newsroom editors and managers to make data-based and collective decisions.

Perlera-Galvan is a transfer student from Johnson County Community College to UCM, where she has served as a student employee in the School of Technology since Sept. 20, 2021. In this role she has provided support for social media, communication to stakeholders, organization, and outreach efforts, according to school faculty members Melissa Abner, associate professor and program coordinator for Fashion and Apparel Merchandising, and Erica Spurgeon, assistant professor in the program. In their nomination letter, they stressed Perlera-Galvan’s excellent ability as a communicator in writing marketing materials, newsletters and creating digital communication. 

She demonstrated her mastery of technology helping to elevate social media content and by initiating her creative ideas on professional and brand posts using video platforms such as Reels and TikTok. She created a new logo for the Fashion Shop to help with brand consistency, and she regularly uses Google Drive, video editing, Canva, Adobe products, Excel, and more to promote the Fashion and Apparel Merchandising program and increase her productivity. She has also assisted with electronic mailing lists, photo and video sessions, editing, 3D printing, and other digital assignments.

“If she sees a process or area that needs improvement, she makes a plan and implements it,” her nominators stated. “She takes on projects like inventory management, organizing labels, creating recruiting plans and finds ways to implement new processes that are efficient and effective. She is always willing to jump in and take on projects as needed.”

In addition to her professionalism and strong work ethic, Perlera-Galvan is a leader in the Fashion Business Association, and has worked as a mentor to students, helping them to feel confident and comfortable in their student environment.



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