UMKC junior from Plovdiv named national Student Employee of the Year

UMKC junior from Plovdiv named national Student Employee of the Year

17.04.2007 14:50:06

KANSAS CITY, MO. -- From a pool of thousands of candidates nationwide, a University of Missouri-Kansas City junior has been selected as the 2007 Student Employee of the Year. Ivan Markov, a 22-year-old computer science major, was recognized for his extraordinary contributions to UMKC’s Adult Continuing Education for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (ACED) at a reception Tuesday, April 10.

In addition to serving as an administrative assistant to the program director for 20 or more hours each week, Markov has worked one-on-one with students every Saturday for the past year. The Bulgarian immigrant has astoundingly crossed language barriers to reach adult students with a wide range of disabilities, such as autism, attention deficit disorder, cognitive impairments, speech impairments, eating disorders, seizures and physical impairments.

“Within a week or two of working directly with the students, he was making breakthroughs that no T.A. or instructor, including me, had made up to that point,” said Wendy Seelbinder, the ACED Program Director who nominated Markov for his award.

In fact, two non-verbal deaf students who know very little sign language and have low cognitive skills began to make eye contact, show emotion and actively participate in class. One would jump up and down and exhibit happiness when he spotted Ivan in class.

Markov was so successful in his role as a teaching assistant that he was promoted to instructor for one of the classes in the fall of 2006. At the end of the last semester, his students gave him a 100 percent approval rating across the board, a rare accomplishment for a first time instructor.

For the lasting impression he’s made on his students and the campus as a whole, Markov was selected as the UMKC Student Employee of the Year from among 19 nominations. The other nominees, each of whom was recognized Tuesday, and the departments for which they work are Tiffany Abney, Student Life; Kristen Betts, University Advancement; Sarah Burkhalter, Counseling Center; Kayleigh Batcher, New Letters; Janita Butler, School of Education Student Services; Teresa Collins, BkMk Press; Russell Dugan, Marr Sounds Archives/Miller Nichols Library; Mark Galeassi, Financial Aid and Scholarships; Lee Hartman, Conservatory of Music; Thomas Horrocks, Residential Life; Heather Little, Center for Academic Development; Sapna Patel, Student Disability Services; Thu Tran, International Student Affairs Office; Johnny Coby Utter, School of Pharmacy; Sarah Way, School of Dentistry; Melissa Wunder, Human Resources; Nihan Yesil, Access Services-Miller Nichols Library, and Xiao Li Zhou, Financial Services.

As the campus winner, Markov advanced to state-wide consideration and was named Missouri Student Employee of the Year. From there, he was selected by the Midwest Association of Student Employment Administrators (MASEA) as the regional winner from a pool of 852 nominations from 45 schools in 12 states. He was then named the best in the nation by the National Student Employment Association (NSEA), which made its selection from 2,200 nominated students from 124 schools in 42 states.

Markov was surprised with each of these awards at the UMKC Student of the Year reception. As the plaques, scholarships checks and even a proclamation issued by the Kansas City mayor began to accumulate in his arms, it was apparent this astounded student was overwhelmed by the honors.

“The ACED program has been like a family to me; I’ve been able to turn to them for anything,” he said. “I’m really appreciative of what they’ve done for me, and I just hope I can return a portion of that.”

Cathy Taylor, MASEA president-elect, and David Hogard, NSEA board member, were both on hand to congratulate Markov and award him checks totaling $1,225. Khosrow Sohraby, dean of the School of Computing and Engineering, was beaming with pride as he handed Markhov a $1,000 scholarship and thanked him for the example he sets for his peers.

In addition, Markov received a $1,000 scholarship from Career Services and Financial Aid and Scholarships. Jan Brandow, the director of Financial Aid, commended all 19 UMKC nominees on the lifelong benefits they’ll take away from their roles as student employees.

“These jobs are so much more than a paycheck,” she said. “Students who work on campus have an advantage over students who don’t; you’re more involved on campus and you matriculate in higher numbers to graduation. The relationships you share with your supervisors will prepare you for the workforce and make you the best citizen after you leave the campus.”

UMKC is one of four University of Missouri campuses. It is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health and life sciences, and urban affairs.