Meet our Student Employees & Supervisor of the Year 2024!

The University of Denver’s 2,500+ student employees form the backbone of the University, gaining important professional development experience while supporting the entire community. In recognition of their outstanding contributions and achievements, the University coordinates an annual selection process to choose our undergraduate and graduate Student Employees of the Year, as well as our Supervisor of the Year!

In an indication of just how important the student employment relationship can be, we had 76 incredibly strong nominations this year! These nominations showed just how much our student employees and supervisors have shown up for one another across a string of incredibly difficult years, displaying incredible teamwork skills as they navigated not only the ongoing crisis of a global pandemic, but also issues of societal injustice, leadership turnover, and personal challenges.

The Student Employment team invites all student employees, supervisors and supporters (including family and friends) to celebrate with us as we honor our Student Employees of the Year, Zainab Alikhan and Cole Young, and our Supervisor of the Year, Cindi Nagai, and recognize all of this year’s nominees!

Check out nominee spotlights on our Instagram throughout National Student Employment Week, April 8 – 12!

Zainab Alikhan, our Undergraduate Student Employee of the Year. She smiles at the camera and has dark brown hair and a colorful sweater on with her arms crossed. Zainab Alikhan is a fourth year student at the University of Denver studying Biochemistry within the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. She serves as the Vice President of the Neurodiversity Resource Group on campus, and previously worked for for Scribe America and as a Thrive Peer Educator. She has also worked since her junior year for the DU Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Program. Zainab also works as a Resident Assistant for Housing and Residential Education here at DU, where she has brought her personal and academic passions for healthcare to improve crisis response in on-campus housing.

Zainab was nominated by her supervisor Jackalynn Mayfield for her work as Resident Assistant for Housing and Residential Education here at DU:

“Zainab is one of the most positive people on this campus. She is able to hold complex feelings related to the injustice she and her residents have faced, while also recognizing who is advocating for change. She stands up for those who don’t have the capacity to voice their concerns. Zainab is always kind to others and will spend hours listening and validating others. Zainab has been a true light for HRE, and we are so proud of all she has accomplished at DU.”

Cole Young, our Graduate Student Employee of the Year. He is wearing a gray button up and glasses as he speaks at a podium. Cole Young is a first year Master-level Social Work student who will soon also be pursuing a Masters in Arts in International Human Rights at Korbel. He has four years of global experience in project and program development and implementation, community based participatory research, grant writing, and capacity building training facilitation related to health, rights, and advocacy. Grounded in social justice and human rights values, he is passionate about creating effective, multi-dimensional solutions to issues in community-centered, holistic ways. He has significant experience working with multicultural communities including LGBTQ+ individuals, refugees, and immigrants on issues related to education, poverty, health and wellbeing, and community-organizing. His past experiences include working for the Asia Pacific Transgender Network, and the Lutheran Family Services Refugee & Asylee Program, where he is currently interning for his MSW. He also works as a Research Assistant for the Butler Institute for Families here at the University of Denver, where he has proactively gained skills in statistical analysis to support research on child abuse prevention in Colorado.

Cole was nominated by his supervisor Milan Tvardek for his work as a Research Assistant for the Butler Institute for Families at DU:

“Cole has taken on increasingly challenging tasks throughout his time at Butler that normally would not be expected of a work study. Cole is always willing to take on a task and effectively juggles his Butler work, an internship, and his coursework. He has been praised by several Butler staff for quickly completing tasks with stellar accuracy and his effective and punctual communication. The level of work he does would generally be expected of a Research Assistant II at Butler! Without Cole’s assistance, we would not have been able to meet project deadlines without impacting the work-life balance of other team members.”

Cindi Nagai, our Supervisor of the Year. She is a middle aged woman in a striped button up smiling at the camera.Cindi Nagai currently serves as the Director of Student Athlete Academic Services within the Provost’s Office. Nagai joined the Denver staff in 1998 as the Manager of Community Service, before being joining Athletics in 2015. Prior to joining DU, Nagai spent nine years as the Head Athletic Trainer at Metropolitan State College. In her current role, Cindi oversees all aspects of student athlete support services, career development and conference and NCAA affiliations. As a supervisor, Cindi consistently prioritizes her student employees’ personal and professional growth, providing opportunities for skills reflection and networking.

Cindi was nominated by her student employee, Lahra Ahearn, for her work as Director of Student Athlete Academic Services at DU:

“Cindi’s impact on the DU community extends far beyond her role as a supervisor; she embodies a selfless commitment to the well-being of her peers and students. In her position in athletic academic advising, Cindi consistently places the needs of students at the forefront. Cindi’s open-mindedness and willingness to lend a listening ear contribute significantly to the supportive culture she fosters. She creates a space where individuals feel heard and valued, promoting a sense of belonging and trust within the community. Perhaps most notably, Cindi brings an infectious energy to every interaction, infusing positivity and warmth wherever she goes. This tangible sunshine she disperses has a ripple effect, elevating the overall atmosphere within the DU community.”

Congratulations as well to our other nominees this year! Check out nominee spotlights on our Instagram throughout National Student Employment Week, April 8 – 12!


Undergraduates Graduates Supervisors
Alanna Jones A. Flynn Anna Antoniouo
Annabella Brotherston Abdelrahman Ibrahim Anthea Johnson
Brinna Faughnan Alejandro Chavez April OsborneAshley McCord
Clara Phillips Amanda Cali Brie Jutte
Emilia Aguayo Benjamin Swain Christopher Miofsky
Gloria Saidi Bright Ikwetie Coco Ho
Grayson Hieb Caroline Kampschroeder Julia Senecal
Iris Stanfill Gabe Dorra Katie Pettet
Ivanna Duluc Jess Phelps Kendra Richard
Jocelyn Buenrostro Joseph Foltz Krystoff Kissoon
Karina Becerra-Lozano Kate Daley Leah McFail
Manuel Sales Lenlee Davis Maverick Bartholomew
Naomi Nassy Liz Winnop Max Manoles
Nick Brees Maisey Toczek Meagan Callahan
Paige Newman Michaela Lark Melanie Kasparian
Samantha Sameshima Noah Meyer Michaela Clark
Sophia Holt Ponce Shepard Nancy Clark
Sydney Gutierrez Qiunan Liu Nikki Martinez
Rachel Clausing Paul Riola
Sabrina Villegas Racheal Aragon
Sid Pine Shelby Wones
Sophia Inda Spencer Anderson
Sunil Kumar
Tamara Tabb
Trapper Lee
Trevor Taft
Yuliya Kaplan

By Laine Stubbs
Laine Stubbs