Employees of the Month
October Employee of the Month: Melissa Wragge
Oh, what a difference you make Melissa Wragge! Melissa came to UNO for school in 2005 and never left. She is a native of Columbus, Neb. and earned her Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) degree from UNO in 2007. As a BGS student her main track was aviation studies and secondary areas of study included history and family and consumer science. Through her degree work she found her way first as a student worker in Aviation Institute, and then as a full-time staff assistant.
Today, seven years later, Wragge is a grants program manager in NASA Nebraska Space Grant & EPSCoR and is UNO's November "Oh" Award recipient. The entire month of November UNO will recognize "Oh, what a difference you make Melissa Wragge!"
Wragge jokingly describes her job as "getting through the piles." "Every day is different in the grant world," she says. "My primary duties are to manage grants and keep track of spending. There's also lots of paperwork and sharing of information with our stakeholders."
One of Wragge's nominators said of her, "Melissa adapts easily to NASA's evolving goals for our program. When NASA changes the priority areas for our program every few years, Melissa is quick to update our forms and processes. When changes are made in administrative procedures at UNO, Melissa adapts our office procedures to accommodate new rules, regulations and processes."
Another nominator said, "She constantly seeks opportunities for growth in her position and is always ready to assist others. Melissa is a reliable source of information regarding our program, grant regulations and compliance."
In addition to being adaptive and pro-active, the November Employee of the Month can be spotted in the skies above Omaha – she is a licensed private pilot.
When asked what this "Oh" Award means to her, Wragge replied, "I'm completely surprised and honored that I've been chosen out of so many employees at UNO."
She fondly remembers the exciting time period during which she married her husband Ryan and graduated a month after with her BGS degree. This September, The Wragges celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, they left their dog Tucker at home and traveled the friendly skies (Wragge as a passenger only) to a beach get away in Cancun, Mexico.
As Employee of the Month, Wragge received a certificate, portrait with the Chancellor, monetary award and use of a designated parking space. She will also be honored at an upcoming meeting of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
October Employee of the Month: Marylyn May
Oh, what a difference you make Marylyn May! May, an enrollment specialist II in UNO's Financial Aid, was honored last week as UNO's October "Oh" Award recipient. May has worked at UNO for the last seven years in the Financial Aid Department. She grew up in Virginia but considers herself a native-Nebraskan. May primarily helps students and parents navigate through the financial aid process.
May describes her role as a "liaison job."
"My main duty is to answer the phone for the office and try to solve the caller's problem best I can. If I can't, I move the question onto someone who can," she said. "There's a lot to keep track of as federal regulations keep changing. We help navigate students through mavlink, help parents, too."
May is an early riser. First in the office, she carpools in from Springfield, Neb., each morning, with her husband, Dick May. If his name sounds familiar, he also works at UNO as director of UNO Telecommunications.
The October Employee of the Month can also be spotted helping out at the Financial Aid front counter. "We take turns at the front counter, everyone does. Even our director [Rany Sell] can be spotted at the counter helping students and parents." A fond memory for May is a recent visitor to the counter. The women had her husband interpret for her. After May answered all her questions, she presented May with a flower.
One of May's nominators is a former trainee. One nominator said of her, "She is prompt in follow through for students and is a pleasure to work with because she 'always is bright and cheerful, and treats everyone just like she would treat her own family.'"
Another nominator said, "Marylyn has gained a wealth of knowledge about all facets of financial aid and shares it in a very pleasant and efficient manner, whether she is talking to a student, parent, or colleague. Marylyn has become an important part of our training new staff because of her demeanor and knowledge. She is a great asset to our financial aid team."
When asked what this "Oh" Award means to her? May gave credit to the entire Financial Aid staff. She said, "Surprised! Also, means a lot -- it really does. Kind of embarrassing too, because there really isn't anyone who is deserving over another in our office – they're all good office workers."
After hours, May said they stay busy going to sporting events and other activities for their nine grandchildren, most who live in town.
As Employee of the Month, May received a certificate, portrait with the Chancellor, monetary award and use of a designated parking space. She will also be honored at an upcoming meeting of the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
June Employee of the Month: Marc Gordon
Library’s Marc Gordon Named Employee of the Month — Marc Gordon began working at UNO on the Criss Library renovation project five-years ago, but with construction finished, he has stayed on as building services manager for the facility. Gordon is responsible for maintaining everything on the inside of the Criss Library and he describes his job as “never being the same day twice.” “I enjoy seeing a lot of interesting people with diverse personalities and being able to watch how everybody works together,” he said. “If there’s an issue in the building everyone comes together to get the issue straightened out. It’s a ‘patron first facility’ and a very enjoyable place to work.” In nominating Gordon for the monthly award, one person said, “Marc always makes himself available to patrons and staff no matter what time it is. He is involved in so many projects on campus including the digital signage committee and taking a year-long CPM course…all while still doing his Monday-Friday 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. job. If he gets a phone call at home and needs to come in he will do so. He is such a great manager and will always help anyone to the best of his ability.” Gordon will receive a certificate and check from Chancellor John Christensen and he will be honored at an upcoming meeting of the Board of Regents.
May Employee of the Month: Leon Brooks
Food Services’ Brooks Named Employee of the Month for May—You probably recognize Leon Brooks as the smiling employee behind the counter in UNO’s food court. Leon has been named UNO’s Employee of the Month for May. One letter of nomination said, “Leon is always smiling and makes conversation with each and every person who goes to his station. His face lights up when he sees us and he goes out of his way to be polite and provide for all customer needs. He is such a breath of fresh air to the Food Court.” Another nominator said, “Every time I come over to purchase lunch at the student center, he always greets me with smiles and pleasant conversation. He makes my visits to the student center wonderful even when I’m having a bad day.” Leon will celebrate seven-years at UNO in August. “I like working here because the people here on this campus make this a good environment to work in…..I really enjoy the people,” says Brooks. In his off-time, Leon is a minister at his church, New Hope Apostolic Temple, where he runs the intercessory prayer ministry. “The customers come to get served. If they choose the food court, I want to make a good impression on them. I want them to get not only good food, but good quality service.”
March Employee of the Month: Craig Adler
Craig Adler Named EOM for the Month of March. Craig Adler, a business analyst for the Registrar’s Office at UNO is the Employee of the Month for March. Craig is a native of Omaha and he received his undergraduate degree in international studies from UNO. He began working in the international admissions area while still an undergraduate student and following his graduation started work in February of 2006 in UNO’s admission’s office as residency coordinator. Today he serves as a liaison between the Registrar’s office and the Information Technology department for the student information system. As UNO’s “Oh” recipient, Craig was honored for his helpfulness and attention to detail. One letter of commendation came from a Nebraska family living in Spain. “I just got off the phone with Craig and we are so encouraged. He was so friendly and helpful and answered all of our ‘don’t fit the box to check’ questions that come from being Nebraskans living abroad and home schooling. He encouraged us that not only does he think we won’t have any problems with our documentation or residency, but that with our son’s ACT score he may also be eligible for scholarships. What a blessing!”
February Employee of the Month: Becky Karel
'Oh, what a difference you make!' — Becky Karel. Karel an office associate in UNO's Milo Bail Student Center, was honored last week as UNO's February 'Oh' Award recipient. Karel, who serves as assistant to reservations manager Sharon Larsen, has worked at UNO for the last four years. A native of Clarkson, Nebraska, she received her undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska-Kearney and a graduate degree from UNO. Karel primarily helps students to reserve rooms in the student center. She also works with on-line reservations and reserving campus rooms for non-academic activities. One nominator said of her, "Becky provides 'above and beyond' service every day. Any request a customer might have she will do her best to assist them. She has great customer service skills and she enjoys working with customers." Another nominator said, "Becky always goes above and beyond what is asked of her and she never has a 'bad' day when it comes to treating others with kindness and respect. Our main constant is that 'everything will change' and Becky is able to adapt to whatever the job is today." Karel gives credit to Border's book stores for her customer service skills. She worked for 11 years for Borders in Kearney and Omaha. Besides being the first recipient of the updated Employee of the Month program, Karel was also honored at the Feb. 16 meeting of the Board of Regents.
October Employee of the Month: Dan McDermott
He Keeps Things Running. Dan McDermott is an early riser. He’s at work in UNO’s facilities garage by three each morning after driving to campus from his home in Neola, Iowa. “I like to work. It makes time go by,” said UNO’s October Employee of the Month.
McDermott has been the mechanic in Facilities Management for the last seven years. He’s responsible for all of the departments’ vehicles, mowers, snow removal equipment and even chain saws and leaf blowers.
A nominator said, “Dan has the ability to fix just about any type or piece of equipment. He maintains and repairs all types of equipment from small two-cycle engines to large dump trucks.”
July Employee of the Month: Marla Smith-Hester
Marla Smith-Hester, UNO’s Employee of the Month for July, says she has lived a lot places but now calls Honey Creek, Iowa her home. She also might call UNO her second home because she has worked on campus for 21-years. Her first seven were spent in the business office of the Milo Bail Student Center and for the last 14 years she has been the business manager of campus recreation in UNO’s Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Building.
“I love working in HPER and I love the new building which is gorgeous, awesome and has a lot of functionality. I especially like that I now have an office with a window,” she said. She describes herself as a multi-tasker whose job covers the basic business manager functions such as accounting and payrolls.
One of the nominations written on her behalf for the Employee of the Month award said, “Ms. Smith-Hester has been instrumental in coordinating the locker room moves in the HPER Building. This past year and leading up to the opening of the new HPER Building, Marla has consistently gone above and beyond for the good of the department. She deserves recognition for her outstanding efforts and service to the patrons and staff of Campus Recreation.”
Smith-Hester was away on vacation with her horses on a trail riding trip to South Dakota’s Custer State Park when the award was announced. “It was a great surprise when I returned from vacation,” she said.
May Employee of the Month: Teonne Wright
Teonne Wright, the web master for UNO’s Criss Library, has been selected as UNO’s Employee of the Month for May, 2011. The Omaha native and graduate of Dana College has been working at UNO since 2008. She is recognized as someone who regularly goes “above and beyond” in her work at Criss Library. One nominator said, “as a member of the Library PERK committee, Teonne has been influential in initiating a staff recognition program for years of service. She is also instrumental in recruiting exhibits displayed in the Library Gallery space. Teonne took this even further when the Library was in need of an exhibit in the Gallery and had nothing lined up. She organized an exhibit of art done by students in a summer arts program she volunteers with.”
Wright says she loves her work at the library. “I’m a creative person and I like to pick up a camera,” she said. As the library’s web master, she is responsible for the Criss Library website, social media, digital signage and she develops applications for the library’s photography. She also enjoys working with and teaching kids in the areas of art and painting at the Growing and Building Together Academy of the Arts. In her spare time, Wright is working on a master’s degree in advertising from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
October Employee of the Month: Kelly Malone
Kelly Malone, Dual Enrollment Coordinator at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, is UNO’s Employee of the Month for October. Malone, who oversees a program that brings current high school students into the UNO classroom, has been praised for her thorough working knowledge of many campus operations.
In a nomination written on her behalf, one nominator said, “Kelly is customer service oriented and helps everyone in a very pro-active way,” said one nominator. “She is a great ambassador with the local school districts.”
November Employee of the Month: Elizabeth Arthur
Elizabeth Arthur, a secretary III in UNO’s Testing Center has been selected as UNO’s Employee of the Month for November. One of her nominators wrote:
“Elizabeth is open and approachable. This is especially important when helping students with disabilities feel at ease in the testing environment. She is very conscientious and makes my job easier because she is so efficient and knowledgeable.”
Another said, “Elizabeth is a top notch employee. She is a team player and always demonstrates a concern for providing professional, quality testing services for students and others. Elizabeth is always willing to go the ‘extra mile’ in getting the job done and brings a positive attitude to work each day. She is vigilant to ensure the integrity of the testing process. Test administration is hard work – and challenging. After five and one-half years on the job, she continues to meet that challenge and is a real asset to the Testing Center and UNO.”
December Employee of the Month: Kathryn Sup Rezac
A native of Omaha, Katie Sup Rezac was named the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Employee of the Month for December. An education graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she has worked at UNO for the last six years, first as an advisor in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation and for the last two years as an academic advisor in UNO’s Division of Continuing Studies.
A nomination for her Employee of the Month award said, “Katie is able to effectively work with all constituents namely, she relates well with students, who go to her for all reasons.” In her job, she advises students on their academic careers and makes sure they are aware of services offered by the campus so that they can be successful in their college careers.
Katie not only advises students in her office, but also from long-distance. Currently she has several on-line students who are in the military serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It can be a challenge,” she says. “For instance one student will be starting at UNO in the fall and he’s never been to the state of Nebraska so I’ve been helping him to find apartments.” Asked what she enjoys most about her advising job she said, “It’s different every day. I’ve always wanted to stay on a college campus. I have a lot of opportunities to do different things and it’s fun working with the students.”