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April 13, 2010

Cofer signs proclamation honoring ULM's student workers

Given a choice, not every freshman college student would spend great chunks of time surrounded by children ranging in age from 5 to 12-years old.

But for Jonathan Turner, 19, of New Llano, the children that surround him at the Boys & Girls Club in West Monroe are a "ray of sunshine in that cloudy day."

Turner is just one of nearly a thousand students employed through the University of Louisiana at Monroe that hold either an on-campus or off-campus position to help offset college-related expenses every year.

He and other students like him work an average of 15 to 20 hours per week performing a variety of job functions that boost productivity at both the university and at area businesses, from clerical duties to videography to being a positive role model for children at the Boys & Girls Club.

University of Louisiana at Monroe President James E. Cofer joined ULM officials, students and their supervisors on April 13, in special recognition of the 75th Anniversary of National Student Employment Week, during an Open House event in the Career Connections and Experiential Education Office. Cofer signed a proclamation declaring this week National Student Employment Week at ULM.

The Open House was just one of several special programs scheduled across campus April 12-16 as a show of support for the services provided by the students, and as a way of thanking the local businesses and university offices that employee them.

"Students play an essential role in the operation of a business or a university," said Roslynn Pogue, ULM student employment administrator. "They are a vital part in contributing to our local economy. I like to call it 'unity with a community.' "

Robert Reed, director of operations at the Boys & Girls Club, agrees with Pogue about the value students add to the community and to area businesses, especially in the not-for-profit sector.

"We're not trying to reinvent the wheel, we're just trying to make it roll a little better," said Reed. "It is key for students to be here. In the non-profit sector we're not always staffed as we'd like to be, especially when faced with budget cuts, so it is overwhelmingly a good thing to have the students here."

Students such as sophomore accounting major Benjamin Aston of West Monroe and junior pre-nursing major Ladasha Gregory of Ferriday also provide services to their college campus while enjoying the benefit of on-campus employment.

"I can go to work and class without ever leaving ULM," said Aston. "With being a full-time student, I stay on campus most of the day, so work and class have become something that no longer collide."

"Working at the ULM Library has benefitted me in so many ways," said Gregory. "I have money to help fund my college expenses, flexible work hours to work around my class schedule (which is very important) ... (and) interacting with different nationalities and age groups has made me well prepared for the real world."

Aston said another benefit to on-campus employment has been the significant impact on his grades.

"Before, I was always scrambling for more study time, but now the on-campus job is exactly what it says it is, work and study," he said.

"Without question, work study will benefit me in future careers," Aston continued. "Skills such as the correct way to greet people, along with punctuality and responsibility will spill over to whatever my post-college career might be ... I believe work-study to be one of the greatest steps college students can take to prepare themselves for the transition into the workforce."

A proclamation signed by President Cofer is posted in the Career Connections Office to raise awareness about the special role fulfilled by student workers, and those who employee them.

Area retailers have also donated gift cards as door prizes.

The Student Employment week at ULM was celebrated in conjunction with the National Student Employment Association, an organization of several hundred professionals involved with programs for college students who work. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in administering student employment or hiring students.

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