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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Sarah Kirkwood named Student Employee of the Year

Diversity and inclusivity are at the forefront of Sarah Kirkwood’s work at the Career Center

One Marquette Career Services employee strives to foster diversity and inclusion at her workplace every day, and in doing so, she earned some surprise recognition for her actions.

Sarah Kirkwood, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and an office and employer relations assistant at the Career Center, was named the 2024 Marquette Student Employee of the Year. She also went on to win the Regional Student Employee of the Year award in the category of diversity and inclusion from the Midwest Association for Student Employment. 

One reason Kirkwood was selected for these awards is because she served as a selection committee representative for a student art project about creating inclusive and representative office environments, which she said was an incredible opportunity. She also wrote a LinkedIn article for student employees titled “Navigating Community, Inclusion, and Culture in the Workplace.”

“Workplace inclusion ensures employees feel valued, respected, and supported. It’s about focusing on the needs of each individual and serves to incorporate and represent diverse features of employees’ lives to make sure everyone feels supported and embraced for who they are,” Kirkwood said in her article.

In addition to workplace inclusion, Kirkwood said she is very passionate about diversity and community. She said she wants to help create workspaces where employees from all backgrounds can find personalized resources and a sense of community, and she said by writing her article she was able to do that.

Following Kirkwood’s time as a selection committee representative and the publishing of her LinkedIn article, Casey Dunn, Assistant Director of Employer Relations at the Career Center, said he decided to nominate her for Marquette Student Employee of the Year. He said she is known for creating fun games and fostering community at the Career Center, even drawing off-the-clock employees into the office to talk about various cultural topics.

“When I saw that one of the major criteria for the award was supporting diversity and inclusion on campus, I immediately thought of Sarah,” Dunn said. “The choice was obvious that I should nominate her.” 

Kirkwood said she has always worked primarily at the front desk, directing individuals and facilitating conversation in the lobby. Dunn said that the front of the office is the perfect place for Kirkwood to be working because of her helpful personality. 

“What she’s done really contributes to the sense of belonging on campus, and it just seems to be second nature to her to bring people together,” Dunn said.  

Kirkwood’s work at Marquette began two years ago, when she came to the Career Center as a sophomore. She said that she heard the center was hiring during one of her classes and decided to apply as a way to potentially develop her career. 

“I thought it was really amazing how the service is free to use for all students and alumni. It’s such a resource that I feel like a lot of people don’t know about, so I was really excited to learn more about what Career Services does, even if I didn’t get the job,” Kirkwood said.  

Kirkwood said winning the award was a complete honor and privilege, even though it came as a surprise to her because she did not know she had been nominated. She said she was proud to be a representative for not just Marquette but also the entire Midwest, because it allowed her to bring awareness to her passions. 

“It’s obviously such a wonderful, amazing opportunity and award that they have bestowed upon me,” Kirkwood said. “I guess it really just put into perspective the things I was able to achieve here with the help of my colleagues, the Career Center and Marquette in general.”  

Dunn said he was also surprised with Kirkwood’s awards, because he did not know that his nomination would provide her with the opportunity to advance to the Midwest regional level. He said he was incredibly excited to hear about the recognition Kirkwood received because of the way he witnesses her make connections with new students and help them thrive.

During Thanksgiving last year, Dunn said Kirkwood created an intercultural food bracket that employees could vote on and talk about together. He said that she made everyone at the office feel included by putting a wide range of global, non-westernized foods in the bracket, even though she did not see it as anything out of the normal. 

“I think what really stands out to me about Sarah is all of the little things she does, that I don’t even know if she knows that she’s doing them, that create a really supportive, safe, inclusive environment for those around her,” Dunn said.

Once Kirkwood realized what the work environment was like at the Career Center and the opportunities available to her as an employee, she said she decided to focus on increasing the level of in-office inclusivity. She said she is most proud of working in the Career Center’s inclusive environment, and that it makes her feel like she is providing students with equal opportunities to develop and grow not just in their careers, but in life overall by making them feel welcome.

“I think that when I’m here, I always feel like I’m contributing something, even if it’s just the day-to-day tasks that I normally do like greeting people at the door,” Kirkwood said. “I always think about how we’re making a difference here by allowing students to become who they want to be.” 

This story was written by Mia Thurow. She can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Mia Thurow
Mia Thurow is a first-year student from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin double-majoring in Journalism and Spanish with a minor in Digital Media. She is a Marquette Wire News Reporter for the 2023-2024 school year. In her free time, Mia enjoys cheering on all her favorite sports teams, exploring downtown Milwaukee with friends, and spending time hiking in nature. Mia is excited to meet new people during her time at the Wire and raise awareness of important news stories in the local community.

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