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University of Iowa News Release

April 15, 2005

UI Announces National Student Employee Of Year Winners

A University of Iowa law student who works as a legal intern for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Cedar Rapids has been named the UI and State of Iowa Student Employee of the Year for 2004-2005.

Justin Lightfoot, a second-year law student and off-campus Work Study employee, conducts research for attorneys and assists with the writing and filing of court documents as a legal intern. His employers say Lightfoot helps attorneys and fellow law students formulate inventive solutions to challenges in the office and that he took the lead in researching and analyzing issues related to the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision last year on the case Washington v. Blakely. In the case the high court ruled that a defendant has a constitutional right to a jury trial on all of the facts that could increase a sentence beyond a range established by Congressional guidelines in 1984.

"Without Justin's assistance, the work would have never been completed in a timely fashion," the person who nominated Lightfoot said.

In addition to Lightfoot's recognition, two other student employees have been awarded Certificates of Distinction and five more were given Certificates of Appreciation.

The National Student Employee of the Year competition is sponsored annually by the National Student Employment Association and winners are announced in conjunction with the National Student Employment Week, which this year runs April 10-16. Students are selected based on the following criteria: reliability, quality of work, initiative, professionalism, and uniqueness of contribution.

Of the 11,000 students employed by the UI, 31 were nominated by their supervisors for special recognition.

"The university wishes to thank all student employees for their dedication to the job and their contributions to the university's goals," said Cindy Seyfer, assistant director of Student Financial Aid at the UI. "It is quite an honor that this year's campus winner was also selected as the State of Iowa winner in review with nominees from across the state."

Certificates of Distinction were given to students Bridgett Laver, a senior in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) double-majoring in linguistics and international studies, and Mason Lunning, a junior in the Henry B. Tippie College of Business who is majoring in accounting.

Laver is a student assistant for the University Libraries Acquisitions Department, where she assists the library in critical special projects related to acquisitions and daily book shipments. Her nominator indicated that "Bridgette picks up on discrepancies and potential problems helping us to keep them from becoming bigger problems." Laver used her expertise in languages to recently help the library in its creation of a collection of Middle East materials.

Lunning works as a patient account representative in the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics Joint Office of Patient Financial Services. He was selected to head up the department's new-patient phone-in process, which involves responding to more than 140 calls and 400 emails weekly and training new staff. He helped the department resolve several months of backlog in a matter of weeks by efficiently using technology to merge duplicate patient records. He was given the rare honor of receiving the UI Hospitals and Clinics' Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award for assisting a patient.

Certificates of Appreciation were awarded to Cory Grimm, Kara Hodde, Erin Huisman, Holly Lopez and Joshua Miller.

Grimm, a senior in the Tippie College of Business who is majoring in marketing, works as an office assistant for the UI Office of Student Affairs and Curriculum in the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine. He is the lead trainer of new student employees and the sole person in charge of office supply inventory control. He was responsible for a special project that involved rewriting all job descriptions and functional analysis forms for more than 15 members of the office merit staff. He displayed a high level of professionalism throughout this highly confidential process.

Kara Hodde, a senior in the CLAS majoring in English and seeking secondary teacher certification, works as a head tutor with the America Reads Tutor Program, a collaboration between the UI College of Education and the UI Office of the Vice President for Student Services. After working one-on-one with elementary students in the Iowa City Community School District as a reading tutor, Hodde assumed head tutor duties and assisted with the training of new tutors. She functions as a mentor for small groups of tutors and leads weekly small group discussions. She initiated the reorganization of the America Reads binder, which serves as a vital resource to tutors during training and tutoring. Hodde provided leadership to more than 50 tutors as they prepared the binders for the upcoming semester.

Erin Huisman, a senior in the CLAS double-majoring in dance and communication studies, works as an office assistant in the UI Department of Dance in the Division of Performing Arts. Her nominators say Huisman is a tremendous ambassador representing the dance department to prospective student and families and that she often works beyond regular hours to assist peers in and out of the office and studio and to tend to the immediate needs of world-renowned faculty and guest artists. Based on her organizational skills, Huisman has been entrusted with nearly every aspect surrounding the department's undergraduate placement auditions, during which the Dance Department plays host to more than 100 prospective students and their accompanying families each semester.

Holly Lopez, a CLAS junior majoring in elementary education, works as a head tutor for the America Reads Tutor Program. After working one-on-one with elementary students in the Iowa City Community School District as a reading tutor Lopez assumed the head tutor duties and assisted with the training of new tutors. She functions as a mentor for small groups of tutors and leads weekly small group discussions. Lopez volunteered to tutor trainees one-on-one if they were unable to attend the group training sessions. This allowed the tutoring program to expand and hire tutors who in the past would not have met the prerequisites and therefore serve more students in need of reading tutors. Lopez also met with staff from the Iowa State Bank and the Trust Rotary Club to obtain funding for the year-end celebration highlighting the accomplishments of the elementary students who received tutor assistance during the year.

Joshua Miller, a third-year pharmacy doctoral student, works as a laboratory assistant in the College of Pharmacy's Ellingrod Laboratory. He designs assays (analyses) in the laboratory and contributes to the scientific interpretation of these results. In the failure of assays, he has worked independently to design new primers or change assays. He analyzed data relating to his project on an examination of the relationship between polymorphisms of the glutamate receptor and response to olanzapine. He prepared an abstract for submission to the eighth annual Pharmacy Student Research Conference. He attends clinical rounds on the geriatric psychiatry unit to identify subjects appropriate to the studies.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Media: Stephen Pradarelli, 319-384-0007, Writer: Cindy Seyfer.