University Libraries’ Student Showcase celebrates outstanding student work

Outstanding Student Employee Awards recognize and honor students who provide exemplary service, demonstrate strong work ethic and exhibit leadership within the Libraries
2024 Libraries Outstanding Student Employee Award Winners

Winners of the 2024 Penn State University Libraries Outstanding Student Employee Awards, clockwise from top left: Ben Brosius, Outstanding Service Award; Jordan Johnson and Madhav Manoj, Student Leadership Award; Ana Julia De Simone Brito Dos Santos, Innovation Award; and Lauren Peng, Outreach Award. Not pictured: Methmi Muthugala, Outreach Award.

Credit: Photos provided

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries faculty and staff gathered virtually in April to celebrate the contributions of University Libraries undergraduate and graduate student employees across the commonwealth.

The University Libraries’ 2024 Student Showcase and Outstanding Student Employee Awards offered viewers a glimpse into the outstanding achievements and perspectives of part-time student staff, undergraduate interns and graduate assistants. They have worked alongside librarians, archivists and staff to further the Libraries’ mission and played a crucial role in supporting the academic and research needs of the Penn State community.

“The University Libraries employs undergraduate and graduate students in a variety of roles across the commonwealth,” said Monica Gingerich, coordinator for student experience and engagement, Library Learning Services. “Our student employees work in many units and play a crucial role in supporting our patrons and ensuring we meet the needs of the Penn State community.”

The Libraries employs students through work-study positions, part-time positions, undergraduate internships and graduate assistantships.

Nine students gave short presentations about the projects they completed and the impact of their work. The student presenters were:

  • Jennifer Marmo, Stelts Filippelli Curatorial Intern
  • Claire Williams, Open Publishing Intern
  • Layth Kahn, Special Collections Library Social Media Intern
  • Troi Howell, Bednar Conservation Internship
  • Isaac Osifo, Science Communications Intern, Life Sciences Library
  • Paige Balliet, Donor Relations Bednar Intern
  • Amy Kim, Statistical Assistant
  • Morgan Riley, Curatorial Intern for the Database of Notable Political Songs
  • Amina Abdullah, Open Educational Practices Internship

The Outstanding Student Employee Award recognizes and honors our top student employees and their contributions to the Libraries. This award looks for student employees who have provided exemplary service, demonstrated a strong work ethic in their role and exhibited leadership. Students were nominated by their supervisor or colleagues, and additional letters of support helped the committee understand the valuable contributions each student has made. The award winners are:

  • Ben Brosius, Donald W. Hamer Center for Maps and Geospatial Information, received the Outstanding Service Award, which recognizes a student who exceeds expectations in library customer service by displaying a positive and empathetic attitude, going above and beyond their assigned responsibilities by contributing their time, energy and talents to further the growth and development of the University Libraries’ service. “Ben demonstrates understanding and empathy of the challenges patrons may have with the navigation of library spaces, maps and geospatial resources,” wrote his nominator. “His perspective has sustainability and environmental concerns in mind when selecting example project ideas. The qualities that make Ben outstanding are his commitment to helping others, his dedication to the work and his friendly personable attitude.” 

  • Jordan Johnson and Madhav Manoj, Libraries Strategic Technologies, received the Student Leadership Award, which recognizes students who demonstrate a commitment to leadership among their peers and various library departments. Recipients are imaginative leaders dedicated to supporting and promoting the values of the Libraries. “Jordan’s adaptability and problem-solving skills have been instrumental in addressing challenges and driving positive change within our organization,” one nomination read. “Madhav’s service to Libraries Strategic Technologies has been characterized by a remarkable combination of diligence, innovation and a deep sense of responsibility,” said another.

  • Methmi Muthugala and Lauren Peng, Robert E. Eich Library, Penn State Altoona, received the Libraries Outreach Award, which recognizes students who have been successful in special efforts or initiatives that create, convey and enhance knowledge and communication among library departments, the University and beyond. “Lauren and Methmi are courteous, friendly, responsible and reliable,” said their nominator. “Their enthusiasm to be student representatives for the Open and Affordable Educational Resources initiative was admirable.” The nominator added that “Methmi’s graphic creativity was showcased in the OER materials she helped create to promote the initiative” and “Lauren’s leadership skills are evident in her interactions with other students.”

  • The Libraries Innovation Award, which recognizes students who have displayed a significant level of innovation and creativity by demonstrating initiative and insight through technology, innovative ideas or other creative projects, was awarded to Ana Julia De Simone Brito Dos Santos, Maker Commons (Teaching and Learning with Technology). “Ana is a hardworking maker-in-residence who helps students with everything from 3D printing to sewing, smart cutting and makerspace projects,” wrote her nominator. “Her ability to provide and receive constructive feedback has not only resulted in high-quality work, but positively influenced TLT and Libraries operations. Ana’s dedication to sustainability, technical proficiency and collaborative spirit set her apart as a deserving candidate.”

Students receiving honorable mentions were Christine Bahk, Ada Basic, Elizabeth Davis, Leah Davis, Kaylie Lusk and Megan Neely.

Members of the 2024 Awards Committee were co-chairs J. Harlan Ritchey, library services associate, Physical and Mathematical Sciences Library, and Amy Miller, library operations supervisor, Common Services, Pattee Library and Paterno Library; Shelbie Howard, library operations supervisor, J. Clarence Kelly Library, Penn State Greater Allegheny; Alexandra Kowsh, library operations supervisor, Physical and Mathematical Sciences Library; and Melissa Millar, library services manager, Berks Thun Library, Penn State Berks.

Endowments for undergraduate internships, such as the Bednar Internship Program and the Sandra K. Stelts and Ronald L. Filippelli Undergraduate Internship in Special Collections, make many of the Libraries’ student employment opportunities possible. Such endowments support and enhance the University Libraries by providing monies for paid internship programs that enable students to participate in an active and collaborative learning experience and gain career experience while earning academic credit.

Established in 2000, the Bednar Internship Program was created through an endowment by Donald Hamer and Marie Bednar. This program enables the Libraries to hire juniors and seniors to complete paid internships with the option of earning academic credit if they so choose. Each year, the Libraries accepts proposals from units seeking an undergraduate intern. The internships allow students to gain an active and collaborative learning experience with real-world skills applicable to their chosen career path. So far, the Bednar Internship program has supported more than 160 students, whose work has left a lasting impression on the University Libraries.

Established in 2007 by Sandra Stelts and Ronald Filippelli, the Sandra K. Stelts and Ronald L. Filippelli Undergraduate Internship in Special Collections supports an undergraduate student each year to work within two special collection units: Rare Books & Manuscripts, and Historical Collections & Labor Archives.

“The Student Showcase and Outstanding Student Employee Awards presentation is by far my favorite event of the year,” Gingerich said. “Learning the details of each student’s work, celebrating their accomplishments and cheering them on as they share their future plans is inspiring and brings together the entire Libraries community. We are creating a space to highlight student work and emphasize the importance of creating an engaged learning opportunity for them, while also moving the Libraries’ and University’s missions and goals forward.”

Members of the Penn State community can view the students’ individual presentations on a curated Kaltura Channel via WebAccess login. For details about University Libraries internships and graduate assistantships, visit the Libraries website. For more information about the Student Showcase and Outstanding Student Employee Awards, contact Gingerich at [email protected].