Apr 132006
Authors: Emily Lance

While many students were planning fun in the sun for Spring Break, Sean Jaster was coordinating a different version of the typical spring school hiatus.

Jaster, the Alternative Spring Break coordinator for the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement (SLCE), received the Student Employee of the Year award on Thursday.

This week is National Student Employment week in which employers are encouraged to honor their workers by taking them out for a meal, writing them a thank-you card or giving them a friendship plant.

Linda Kuk, vice president of Student Affairs, the department that oversees Student Media, presented Jaster with his plaque in honor of his reliability, initiative and professionalism shown in his position.

“I am a strong believer in community and if this is a strong testimony to what I’ve done, then it is a strong testimony of what SLCE does,” Jaster said during his acceptance speech. “If I didn’t have Jen (Johnson, assistant director of volunteer and community programs) people would be in a corner in Delaware wondering how to get back to CSU.”

Among his accomplishments, Jaster initiated the first international Spring Break trip to Achiote, Panama. He was also the co-leader for the spring trip in which he worked with CEASPA (Centro de Estudios y Accion Social Panamaneno), an ecotourism and environmental conservation program, to build a trail and bird-watching deck.

“There was a lot of logistics involved,” Jaster said. “The trip went smoothly.”

He also added a fall break experiential trip to Denver focusing on homelessness. Site leaders for various agencies in Denver volunteered to put themselves “in the shoes” of homeless individuals in Colorado and reflect on their experiences.

The Alternative Spring Break coordinator is responsible for managing the executive board of the program, assisting with the design and facilitation of a leadership training school, advising and coordinating spring break trip logistics, and working with the assistant director on developing partnerships within the Division of Student Affairs.

The coordinator facilitates meetings with individual Spring Break trips in planning and implementation.

The primary responsibility of the coordinator is to provide safe, meaningful and quality service-learning trips for students and to provide opportunities for them to expand their leadership skills through study of cultures and social issues in conjunction with hands on experience.

The Student Employment Award began in 1990 to honor an outstanding student employee, said Janeen Sivon, assistant director of student employment.

In addition to the Student Employee of the Year, Jaster was honored with the Fort Collins Community Civility award for his commitment to cross-cultural awareness and diversity.

Joanna Thomas, a junior technical journalism major, will take over the Alternative Spring Break coordinator position in the fall and intends to do more international trips as well as adding more opportunities to the program. Thomas hopes to travel to the East Coast to work with disabled people.

“I have a passion for working with people with disabilities,” Thomas said. “There are places to work by the East Coast that shine a light on disabilities.”

Also present were the two other recipients of the Fort Collins Community Civility award. Trish Baker, junior psychology major and special needs swim coordinator, and Trina Swenson, SLCE coordinator, were acknowledged at the ceremony for their dedication and passion for community.

Emily Lance can be reached at campus@collegian.com

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