Student employees: they’re tired, over-worked, underpaid and constantly searching for the perfect balance between school, life and work. Finding a student who can maintain their enthusiasm while simultaneously dealing with the pressures that come from being a student-employee can be a difficult task. But Nolan Kane does it all with a natural aplomb and a smile that beams from ear-to-ear.
Nolan is a senior at the University of Oregon, studying political science and Spanish. He works on campus as an IT Manager at the UO Jaqua Academic Center, but his work doesn’t stop there. He goes above and beyond every day, whether it’s giving tours or saving ducklings on Franklin Blvd — there is apparently nothing he cannot do. All of which goes a long way toward explaining why Nolan has been awarded the title “Student Employee of the Year” not once, not twice, but three years in a row.
Each year faculty and staff from departments on campus are asked to submit nominations to the UO Career Center for “Student Employee of the Year.” Understandably, seniors are generally awarded the prestige of the campus-wide title. However, any student employee on campus who excels at their position has the opportunity to be recognized.
So what is it about Nolan that has enabled him to win this award three years in a row? “His big personality,” says Nolan’s boss Sara Wells — the office specialist at the Jaqua center. “He has such a welcoming presence about him, he can’t help but be well-liked by everyone.”
“Nolan says yes, enthusiastically, to any task he’s given, even if it is undesirable — he’ll find a way to make it entertaining,” Wells continues. “He is a leader. I know that he does a ton of sports, works really hard at work and school, and is able to do so while being like a magnet to others. He’s able to pull people in with the right intentions, while being genuine, honest, pro-active and a go-getter.”
Perhaps what sets Nolan even more apart is his appreciation for getting work done as a member of a team, rather than individually.
“I think that working with people requires a mix. It has to be your prerogative to get things done, but it is always helpful to have a team of equally motivated people around you,” said Nolan.
Not surprisingly, Nolan inevitably finds a way to transfer his commitment and enthusiasm to the people he works with. When asked what sets him apart from the other nominees he said, “It helps to have an amazing staff. The people I work with are out of this world, so that always helps.”
Because of his outgoing personality Nolan is frequently asked to give tours of the Jaqua Center. Recently he led an entire tour in Spanish to a group of teenage women athletes from Columbia. According to Wells the young women could not stop gawking over Nolan. However, he reportedly maintained his composure while remaining humble and professional — with a bright red face.
Still, Nolan’s enthusiasm for going above and beyond doesn’t stop there. He (along with a few other employees) once ran out to Franklin Blvd to save a group of ducklings after a car hit their mother. He leapt into a water filled ditch and negotiated traffic in the middle of Franklin Blvd, all to ensure the ducklings were safe. Just another feather in his cap.
While Nolan will clearly go above and beyond his assigned duties, he brings a steady focus to the day-to-day demands of his job as well. He shows up on time, gets his work done and ensures that the Jaqua Academic Center is running smoothly, and that his customers leave with a smile on their face.
As far as anyone knows, receiving “Student Employee of the Year” three years in a row is unprecedented — a recognition of Nolan’s extraordinary combination of punctuality, persistence and personality.
Nolan will graduate at the end of this quarter, and enter into a Conflict and Dispute Resolution Master’s Program through the UO School of Law, with the hopes of one day enrolling in law school. It seems readily apparent that whatever course he pursues, he will prove to be the right person for the job.