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Lifting — each other up

Posted 2:18 p.m. Friday, April 12, 2024

Lucy Suek, a REC employee and a UWL senior majoring in Exercise & Sport Science: Fitness Track, is this year’s Student Employee of the Year. Post graduation she plans to attend Denver University’s graduate program for Clinical Exercise Physiology. 

Student employee of the year reflects on her years working in the REC’s welcoming fitness community

Sometimes fitness centers can feel intimidating — amidst the clatter of heavy weights and the whirl of unfamiliar machines. 

Student Employee Lucy Suek says UW-La Crosse’s Recreational Eagle Center doesn't fit that fitness center stereotype. She sees REC staff helping anyone with a question and friendships unfolding as members return week after week. Her goal as a student employee is to keep the REC’s welcoming atmosphere growing.  

And if that means sprinting to work to cover a shift for an absent employee, helping cover aspects of her supervisor’s position during his paternity leave or volunteering numerous times to assist with training REC staff, that’s what Suek will do.   

Her willingness to step up, even when it felt out of her comfort zone, is what won Suek the 2024 Student Employee of the Year award for UW-La Crosse. Suek received the award Monday, April 8 during a reception on campus. The recognition comes during National Student Employee Appreciation week, April 7-13, to recognize and appreciate the invaluable service of both student employees and student employment professionals. UWL’s Student Employment Supervisor of the Year award went to Mary Grattan, an executive assistant in the College of Business Administration Dean’s Office. 

“I felt compelled to nominate Lucy for this award for numerous reasons, but primarily to express my sincere appreciation for the person she has become and growth while at Rec Sports,” says Fitness Coordinator Nick Berg. “Witnessing her develop into a grounded and authentic leader who is dedicated to positively impacting others' lives has been a privilege, and I'm very proud of Lucy.” 

Suek is student coordinator of fitness at the REC, an assistant to Berg in planning events, scheduling the fitness center supervisors and updating policies and procedures. She’s volunteered to step for numerous other tasks such as leading employee trainings on complex topics like risk management and emergency action planning. She’s also filled in to cover a variety of shifts of varying levels of responsibility whenever she can. 

 “I love my job,” says Suek. “It comes down to the atmosphere you find here. You meet so many people ... the people who work here and the people who work out at the REC. It is a community. Everyone is here to lift each other up.” 

Suek grew up loving an active lifestyle, a staple in her family life whether camping outdoors in the summertime or playing sports throughout the school year. So, the REC, UWL’s health and fitness hub, seemed a natural place to apply to work. Suek started her sophomore year as a supervisor in the fitness center. 

Suek, now the REC’s student coordinator of fitness, says while some of her job duties like public speaking and taking on more leadership responsibilities, have pushed her out of her comfort zone, they’ve also helped her learn about herself. For instance, she learned how to realize when it was time to ask for help from co-workers when she was experiencing overwhelm. She also learned to relax her perfectionistic tendencies when it prohibited her from reaching solutions at work. Suek thanks her supervisor, Berg, for helping her work through these learning moments and pushing her to be her best. 

“I learned that people are so different, so you are not always going to please everyone. But, if you are sticking with your morals and giving it your all, you can work through problems together and get to the same end goal,” says Suek. “I think my experience at the REC will help with my future career working with others — wherever it may be in the fitness world.” 

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