Congratulations to fall 2021 Employee Recognition recipients

Since fall 2019, Student Affairs has had an employee recognition program in the four important areas of student retention, customer service, leadership, and morale building. The program’s purpose is to shine a light on the talent, commitment, and compassion demonstrated by our staff. Nominations were accepted by peers and supervisors during the months of April through September. We are delighted to announce the winners for fall 2021.

October 2021 winners

Reed Claiborne head shot Hyginus Ukadike head shot Karen Hulsey head shot Yuliana Barajas head shot
Student retention Customer service Leadership Morale building
Reed Claiborne
Disability Resource
Hyginus Ukadike
Counseling Services
Karen Hulsey
Financial Aid
Yuliana Barajas
Conference Services

Here are some plaudits from the nominations:

Reed Claiborne | Student retention

Seeks ways to continually remove barriers when interacting with students: Reed is laser-focused on removing barriers, and he embodies the DRC’s core values of collaboration and access. In addition to removing barriers related to disability, he is also tuned in to other populations, including LGBTQ, and collaborates with others to address those barriers as well.

Identifies creative ways to positively impact retention: Reed has established a program where students with reading-related learning disabilities get together regularly to discuss challenges they face related to access, strategies they have learned, and technology solutions that can benefit others in the group.

Collaborates effectively across units to help students persist: Reed regularly meets with faculty to consult on accommodations that are workable in their classes and speaks to faculty departments to help educate them on what the DRC does. He is a friendly face at many Student Affairs events, always promoting the department and making connections to the benefit of students. Reed has done a very good job as Director and deserves this recognition for his work with students.

Reed has done a very good job as Director and deserves this recognition for his work with students.

Hyginus Ukadike | Customer service

Hyginus is always one of the first to volunteer to help our students. He is consistently supportive, friendly, and respectful, as he focuses on helping solve problems with both students and colleagues, even when having a difficult day himself. His positive attitude and excellent work ethic help create a positive atmosphere in our department. Hyginus frequently goes above and beyond the required job duties to assist with university activities, department programing, and individual student needs. As one example, Hyginus is currently working with the Law School one day a week in order to increase access for those students as well. Hyginus can often be found researching new ways to improve the quality of services that he provides to students.

As a co-worker, Hyginus is easy to work with and is consistently very supportive of our student workers, and his fellow colleagues. I believe he is an asset to the university and would be an excellent person to be awarded recognition for his customer service.

H has been serving this campus and the students in it for nearly 2 decades and has not lost much enthusiasm/passion along the way. He continuously goes above and beyond to help the campus community and does it with his trademark smile and friendly demeanor. If a student is lost or is looking for a resource on campus, he is ALWAYS (yes, I mean always) willing to walk that person to their destination so they do not get lost or frustrated. H’s warmth and affability are not limited to just students, he will often stay late if a counselor’s session is running late so they are not alone in the office after-hours.

Not even a pandemic could slow him down. You can regularly find him wiping down tables and disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces around the office to ensure that it is safe for staff and visitors.

This is what makes him an asset to CS, If he sees that something needs to be done, he just does it.

These traits also make him a great manager to our support staff. Fortunately for us, he trains them to be welcoming, courteous, and friendly in order to perpetuate the culture we work so hard to keep up at CS.

No matter the circumstances you can always count on H to be there and be a team player. He takes initiative and is always ready to do what is needed to ensure that the office is running smoothly and that everyone who interacts with our department feels welcomed and included. I cannot think of an individual more deserving of this award.

Due to the nature of our profession, I cannot go into much detail about this. However, I assure you that there are numerous students on this campus and at Bowman that H has advocated for. There are numerous instances of him connecting students with housing, lap tops, books, resources, tutors, food, etc.

Karen Hulsey | Leadership

Ms. Hulsey has shown time and again, the strength and unity that exemplary leadership can bring to a department. Even having worked in another department with the university, I have never known such leadership. Any mistake a team member makes becomes a learning experience for ALL, without any finger-pointing. If we get discouraged, she is our cheerleader and makes us laugh with her sense of humor. Ms. Hulsey knows how to get results, how to get people to listen, how to work with the public, and she knows financial aid. I believe I speak for the entire team, when I say we all have 100% trust in her knowledge, experience, compassion, and motivation.

Ms. Hulsey promotes public involvement and Trojan spirit. Every time there’s an admissions/recruitment event, she says, “Wear your Trojan spirit clothes!” When she works directly with the public, she is informative, concise, and pleasant. And just as she encourages us to do, she tries hard to make financial aid less “scary” for the students and their families.

One thing I noticed about Ms. Hulsey very quickly is that her interest in OUR best interest is genuine. She makes us all feel valued and heard every single day.

“Ask Karen, she’ll know.” – most common phrase of the day

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Karen for the last two years as colleagues within the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. Karen is always quick to assist with anything needed and is a joy to work with. I appreciate Karen’s openness when it comes to discussing possible improvements and implementing proactive solutions in the best interest of our students. Her willingness to share her experience and historical knowledge when it comes to UA Little Rock plus federal, state, and institutional aid has been invaluable in making positive changes within the unit.

Because of Karen, we have been able to provide virtual meetings and still allow for coverage of phones plus any on-campus visits at the same time. She is one of the key reasons we have had a lower turnover rate when it comes to our financial aid advisors and this kind of consistency benefits every student on campus. She empowers our advisors by providing thorough training and keeping an open-door policy that allows advisors to ask questions without fear of recourse. She genuinely wants the team to succeed and knows this is a direct correlation to our students’ success as well.

Yuliana Barajas | Morale building

Yuliana is our Conference Services Coordinator for the Donaghey Student Center. She works with departments all across campus and the community to deliver the highest quality of customer service for each event hosted by the DSC. These events range from Student Orientations, Board of Visitors meetings, Blood Drives, Student Orgs, Cheer Camps, and the list could go on. Her and her staff are always doing whatever it takes to get the job done from flipping table setups to troubleshooting IT technical issues.

Comments from others:

  • Sociology Club: “Sometimes the simplest things mean the most” Thank you for your help.
  • PHI KAPPA PHI: I write to formally thank you and your staff for your help in making the annual induction of our new members a success. We saw many smiling faces from students and parents. Thanks to all for an outstanding effort and we look forward to working with you in the future.
  • Counseling Services: Thank you for helping us make Mythbusters a success. We could not have done this without the help of you and your staff. You and your staff are very much appreciated.


Please join Student Affairs in congratulating these stellar colleagues! You may also visit the complete list of winners since the program’s inception.

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