In the whirlwind of beginning her college career four years ago, Jessica Hicks was like many freshmen: focused on where she would live, making sure she made it to class, and adjusting to a new schedule and environment.
Knowing she'd also need a paycheck, though, she got busy looking for a job - and began working in the dean's office within the College of Business on her first day of classes.
Hicks, who was named Pittsburg State University Student Employee of the Year this spring for her outstanding work, is one of the hundreds of reasons the university operates so efficiently. With 900 undergraduate and graduate students working across campus, they are an invaluable part of the employee population.
"I think students, along with faculty, are the backbone of our school," said Hicks, who just finished her degree in business management and marketing. "It's our school, so I think it's important that we have a part and a say in how we see things run. Student work is a way of contributing to that."
Emily Eddy, a junior elementary education major who won the Pittsburg Area Student Employee of the Year Award at the same ceremony, said her work with children for Pittsburg's Cornerstone Family Church has not only been fun, it's given her helpful tools she'll use in her career.
"It's important that PSU students get out in the community and get hands-on experience in the outside world," said Eddy, who plans to teach elementary school and pursue a master's in special education.
Kim Hull, career counselor and student employment coordinator at PSU, said she sees the value of work reflected in the many students she helps find jobs.
"Students play an integral part in our community, both on and off campus," she said. "Not only is their work beneficial to area businesses and departments on campus, but it's also a benefit to the students. It's an honor when we can recognize them for their accomplishments."