Rachel Wonderlich

Rachel earns National Student Employee of the Year

Rachel Wonderlich has always loved working with children. Her passion for helping youth maximize their potential in addition to her family ties to Iowa State made her decision to study child, adult, and family services at Iowa State an easy one.

To enhance her college experience, Rachel decided to apply for a summer internship at the Keokuk County Extension and Outreach office for 4-H. She received the position and spent her summer developing lesson plans, publishing a monthly newsletter, and coordinating workshops to increase cultural awareness for staff members and the community. Rachel loved the job, and immediately saw how it correlated with her courses.

“4-H is one of my top career choices when I graduate,” she said. “What I learn from my job is parallel to what I learn in class. From working with kids and developing lesson plans, it’s definitely good prep for my future youth program career.”

Rachel enjoyed the job so much, she looked at how to stay involved back at school. She found the ISU Extension and Outreach 4-H Youth Development Global Citizen Internship and started in September of 2014. It was the first time the program offered this internship, and Rachel said she enjoyed helping to define it. Her supervisor noticed Rachel’s drive and positive work ethic and nominated for the Employee of the Year award from the National Student Employee Association for Iowa State University, and Rachel won.

But her recognition didn’t end there. Her supervisor’s nomination went on to also win award on the state level and Rachel was thrilled.

“It’s a reflection of the work I did for my internship,” she said. “But also a reflection on my relationship with my mentor, and a testament to my determination.”

After happily winning the state level, Rachel stopped thinking about the nomination and focused on her academics and job.

“I didn’t expect more to come from it,” she said. “I felt appreciated on a whole new level which makes working a lot easier.”

But more did come. After about a month, Rachel’s supervisor came to her office, along with staff from the Student of Financial Aid Office. They brought her balloons, cookies, and a card which read, “Congratulations on winning Iowa and the Midwest Student Employee of the Year!” Rachel turned the card over and read, “and national”.

Rachel is the first person from the state of Iowa to win the national award and  scholarship, and she couldn’t feel more excited and humbled.

“It’s still not always real to me; it’s crazy,” she said. “I’m the first one from Iowa to ever win on the national level.”