CORVALLIS, Ore. - Crystal Fisher is like many other college students, learning to juggle the demands of academia with the necessity of working for a living.

"I wouldn't be able to be here (at Oregon State University) if I didn't have a job," Fisher said.

But Fisher has managed to find the perfect blend of both in her position as a student employee in the OSU psychology department. A senior in psychology, Fisher has been working there since a few weeks before she began her freshman year at the university, allowing her to feel like a real part of her department.

Fisher's hard work as a student employee earned her the coveted "OSU Student Employee of the Year," title this year, and this week, Fisher learned that she has also been named Student Employee of the Year for the State of Oregon.

Fisher, who was nominated for the OSU title by her supervisors, is a bit baffled by the honors.

"I don't feel like I do anything extraordinary," Fisher said. "I'm just doing what I have to do to survive."

Fisher's nominators would disagree, calling her vital to the department. And likewise, Fisher recognizes what an advantage she has as a student employee in her home department, rather than working off-campus in a service industry job.

"It's great because I'm more connected to OSU by staying on campus to work," she said. And she has a closer connection to her professors because she's often in the office and is able to interact with them on a regular basis.

Fisher also works in the social psychology lab, which gives her practical experience in her field, and additionally, she works as an academic coach at the Academic Success Center, mentoring other students. Since Fisher wants to become a counselor, the one-on-one mentoring experience is perfect for her.

Mike Mays, student employment coordinator, said OSU Student of the Year award recipients have gone on to win the state competition at least four times in recent memory. He said OSU student employees excel for a number of reasons.

"It's a combination of student worth ethic and the support they receive from their supervisors," he said.

Mays said students who work on campus often have an advantage when they graduate. While OSU students in general graduate with a depth of knowledge about their subject matter, student employees also have an understanding of workplace culture, and practical skills.

"They have a leg up on the competition," he said.

While Fisher did not win at the regional level, she will receive a plaque from the state acknowledging her achievements, as well as $50, which will be presented to her by the psychology department next term.

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Mike Mays, 541-737-0520