April 15, 2009

Student Employee Gilbert Claims Regional/National Awards

VALDOSTA - Barron “Neil” Gilbert of Outdoor Programs was chosen by the Southern Association of Student Employment Administrators and the National Student Employee Association as the 2009 Student Employee of the Year.

Representatives from these organizations awarded Gilbert with a plaque and $2,000 at the Annual Student Employee Appreciation luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 15, in the University Center Magnolia Room.

The 20-year-old junior serves as the climbing wall supervisor and facilitator at the Student Recreation Center on Sustella Avenue. Gilbert was a campus recreation employee for the two years prior to taking his supervisory role during Spring 2008. He is responsible for supervising the climbing wall and other facilitators, teaching classes, improving related programs, responding to emergency situations, scheduling and more.

Since taking a leadership role, Gilbert has dramatically improved the climbing wall program, said Galen Martin, assistant director for Outdoor Programs. He not only garnered an unprecedented amount of sponsorships, he also established a points/prize system to encourage semester-long climbing. His “Climb a Mountain" program, which gave climbers personal climbing goals equal to mountains from around the world, built a true climbing community.

Climbing and bouldering events held each semester more than doubled in participation under his direction. A brand new event, team climbing, has also boosted participation and excitement about rock climbing. Other new options and trips have added to the community he established.

“(Gilbert) has shown excellent organizational skills, initiative and overall excitement for his job that sets him apart from other workers,” Martin said in the nomination letter. “His quality of work has been more than I ever could have asked for.”

While working hard in his position, the speech communication major has maintained a 3.6 GPA and stayed true to his 4-year track. During his off-hours, Gilbert enjoys rock climbing, snow boarding, hiking and other outdoor activities.

Gilbert is the first VSU student to claim regional and national Student Employee of the Year designations since VSU's recognition program began last Spring.

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