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Nadia Graese ’17 awarded student worker of the year

Nadia+Graese+17+was+recognized+as+student+employee+of+the+year.
Nadia Graese ’17 was recognized as student employee of the year.

By Tanvi Jindal

jindalta@grinnell.edu

Waiting for Nadia Graese ‘17 in anticipation, I was both a little intimidated by and skeptical of a person who was hardworking and dedicated enough to become the campus student employee of the year. On meeting Graese, I realized that my concerns were misplaced. Having worked with her before, I know her as someone who definitely deserves to be appreciated for her work.

On becoming the student employee of the year, she remarked, “first off, I was really surprised- I didn’t know that it was something that you could receive. I got an e-mail a couple weeks ago telling me to go to the student employment event because this award existed. I feel like it was a form of validation because I love my job and I have really enjoyed working there for so long. To have other people tell me that I was actually doing well is kind of a cool thing.”

She has been working in the dining hall since the first semester of her first year at college.

“I was promoted to the dish room student leader in the beginning of my second year. My maximum was last semester when I was working 18-20 hours a week. This semester is the least that I have worked- about 2 shifts a week, but I still come in to help once every 2-3 weeks. It’s a weird feeling for me because I used to be there all the time. That was the comment for me, “you never leave, you live here.” And now I don’t,” Graese said.

Graese feels that the working at the dining hall has been a learning curve for her, personally and professionally.

“I have been given the opportunity to grow a lot. The dining hall has always been a place where I feel comfortable and it’s given me more responsibility as I’ve gotten older. There’s so much growth involved with being a student leader. Being one of the original student leaders, Annika Peterson and I are more in charge of the interviewing and standardizing the program. Sure, I don’t get paid more but I have become more confident as a result of my time there,” Graese said.

Commenting on the perception of working there, she said, “it’s important work that people tend to discredit”

Graese explained that working for a professor or in an otherwise academic position tends to carry more weight when applying for other jobs and in student culture in general.

“Working there has taught me in a very, very safe space that I am capable of voicing my own opinions and helping to implement things,” she said. “Those basic skills can help me wherever I go.”

Nadia Graese ’17 was recognized as student employee of the year.

But dining hall work has its own issues.

“I hate when there’s no music. It gets stressful to train people in the same jobs constantly, especially when they aren’t catching on. Every year, I have noticed myself getting a little more stressed because it has been 3 years since I have been training students. Lack of communication is frustrating. I hate that it is too hot in the dish room,” Graese said.

However, the work environment has improved over the past couple of years, mostly due to more professional student leaders.

“I respect all of them a lot. Student leaders, when I was a freshman, would do things like throw forks at the ceiling and fill glasses with water, stack them as pyramids and knock them over. It wasn’t a very professional situation. What we have tried to do over the last 2 years is make it a more professional job, with real requirements, especially now that we have a student union. I think that the new student leaders will not only going keep the program strong but also make it better after I graduate,” Graese said.

Graese has both short and long-term reasons for working.

“Obviously, I work because I need money to pay for my college tuition. But secondarily, I feel that keeping the dining hall running is necessary work. My goal on a shift is to make it as easy and efficient as possible for everyone involved. I try to be where I am needed. If the dish line is busy, I’ll be there. If the silverware is busy, I’ll be there so that I can get us done on time. My short-term goal is to provide the best service we can in the proper timeline,” she said.

It is difficult to strike a balance between work and academics, but Graese feels they go hand-in-hand.

“It obviously reduces the amount of time that I can spend on academics but I like to have the break from the intellectual thinking and be able to move around, talk to people and learn things in a different way. It is more of a social education: how do you talk to people, how do you tell them what they’re doing wrong and right,” she said.

When asked about her work ethic, she said, “I have always taken my work seriously. When I was 9 years old and I was sick, I made my dad go to school and take my homework for me. I have always been very dedicated to my work. At this point, I ask myself, ‘what can I do to instigate a strong work ethic in other people.’”

Graese’s celebration of her award proves why she received it: she went right back to work.

“Well, that day I was working in the dining hall and then I received this award and I went to my other job. That day, I actually worked about 8.9 hours. That’s how I celebrated my award, by working,” Graese said.

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    Harrison FordApr 23, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    No one deserves it more. Congrats.

    Reply