Having a Federal Work Study award as part of her financial aid package has helped Mina Le pay for her college education. It’s also given the senior chemical engineering major from Boston the opportunity to learn valuable “soft” skills that will serve her professionally.
“I wanted a work-study job that would let me improve my communication skills. I really wanted to step out of my comfort zone and be more interactive with people,” says Le, who does just that by working 15 hours a week at the front desk of the Student Employment Office at University Crossing. Her primary duties involve answering questions about JobHawk and helping students complete the required paperwork for their own work-study jobs. 
“Figuring out the forms can get kind of frustrating for students, so you have to be patient and maintain a professional attitude,” says Le, who has worked in the Student Employment Office for the past two years. Prior to that, she worked for two years in the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) lab in Pinanski Hall.
Le’s patience and professionalism have not gone unnoticed. She was named the university’s Student Employee of the Year for 2017-18.
“Mina’s consistency and attention to detail have made her someone we trust to help our student employment operations run smoothly and efficiently,” says Job Location and Development Coordinator Lauren Michaels, who nominated Le for the award. “She sets high standards of excellence for herself in all areas.”
Le received the honor at the seventh annual awards ceremony, held by the Student Employment and Financial Aid offices as part of National Student Employment Week.
“I was surprised just to be nominated for the Student Employee of the Year award,” Le says. “When I won, it made my entire year. It took me a minute to take it in and really believe they called my name. I never win anything, even raffles.”
That’s not entirely true. Le’s intramural volleyball team twice won its division championships at the Campus Recreation Center. Le also belongs to the Urban Choreography Club, the Society of Women Engineers and the Vietnamese Student Association and was a founding member of the Student Association of Chinese Americans.
Lee, who has concentration in biological engineering and a minor in business administration, has also worked as a manufacturing process engineer co-op at both Pfizer and Polartec, and as a research assistant at Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals.
With the help of Assoc. Prof. of Chemical Engineering Seongkyu Yoon, whom Le credits for mentoring her throughout her time in the Francis College of Engineering, she is now looking to start her career in the biotech or pharmaceutical industry.
But first she is planning to take a solo post-graduation trip to Thailand, Taiwan, Japan and Seoul.
“My parents are from Vietnam, but I’ve never been to East Asia,” Le says while sitting at her front desk at the Student Employment Office. She begins talking about visiting Vietnam with her parents someday before politely cutting the conversation short. A student is approaching the desk.
“Can I help you?” Le asks.