The Office of Student Employment at University of the Cumberlands recently received a Community Partnership Award by the Whitley County Board of Education (WCBOE) for the staff’s dedication to students and community partnership during a year of unprecedented growth for the University.

The on-campus population at Cumberlands reached an all-time high during its fall 2019 semester, with more than 1,700 students enrolled. While the growth excited the campus community, it meant that more students than ever were looking for federal work-study opportunities to augment their financial aid package and better afford their college education. The students were on campus and ready to work. The Office of Student Employment had its hands full.

Students were already working in positions on Cumberlands’ campus, such as in the University’s offices, in grounds keeping and maintenance, and in food service positions. With the influx of new students, there weren’t enough campus jobs to go around. New positions needed to be created. So, Student Employment reached out to the Whitley County Board of Education in hopes of creating a partnership.

The WCBOE ran with the idea, and before long, Cumberlands students were filling positions at the Board Office. Students had the unique opportunity to see firsthand what it takes to run a school district, from business and accounting to IT services to human resources. When in-seat classes resume at Cumberlands in fall 2020, students will have the chance for positions not only at the Board Office but also inside Whitley County’s main campus. Students will be able to become office assistants, classroom aides, tutors, and assistant coaches, helping the school system run more smoothly with the extra help and giving college students valuable work experience during their college career. There will be no cost to the Whitley County School District, as the students will be paid from federal work-study dollars.

Ms. Becky Thomas and Ms. Michelle Tinch are the student employment coordinators at Cumberlands. Both ladies joined the staff at a hectic time for student employment, as many students had not yet received job offers and a new payroll system had been implemented, making it challenging for students to get paid on time as everyone learned the new system. They pulled long hours to ensure that all students got paid for their work. Ms. Thomas and Ms. Tinch were incredibly humbled and pleased to receive the Community Partnership Award from WCBOE.