Name: Tracy Landis
Title: Cashier for The Underground
What that means: Landis is one of the constants in The Underground. Guests depend on her accuracy and knowledge.She accurately trains staff, directs them in their day-to-day activities, and makes sure The Underground runs smoothly. Landis has impeccable accuracy and makes sure her cash drawer is never short. She proactively trains student cashiers on cash handling accuracy.
She always maintains a positive attitude, all while keeping a close watch on her area and helping to direct several student employees. Landis models excellent customer service and helps student employees provide service and overcome challenging situations. When others are absent, Landis steps up to make sure all duties are completed and nothing is left undone. Her dedication to her job is rare.
Notable: In addition to her dedication and accuracy, Landis simply makes every day brighter for those around her. She has a following of guests who will stand in her line, even when another cashier is available, just so they can interact with her. The way customers perceive her can best be described by a testimonial of one of her customers: “I have been drinking coffee in that venue [the Underground] since Wescoe opened in 1974, and Tracy does more work, does it quicker and better, and with more sustained energy, and a better sense of humor than anyone I’ve ever encountered.”
Another customer attests, “for the last four years I’ve frequented the salad bar at Wescoe an uncountable number of times, and in the process, I’ve come to know Tracy Landis through my visits. Tracy is always courteous, helpful, and consistently has an undying sense of humor. Many, many times she has been the brightest part of my day.”
Name: Lynn Villafuerte
Title: Program coordinator, Higuchi Biosciences Sciences Center
What that means: In her role, Villafuerte manages three programs: Post-Baccalaureate Research Education Program, Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity and Peer-Led Undergraduate Supplements. Villafuerte is in charge of approximately 75 students. She manages a minority research training program for undergraduates at KU specifically to prepare them for graduate school.
Villafuerte’s most outstanding quality is how hard she works towards social change. Her projects involve helping students from underrepresented backgrounds succeed in the biomedical sciences and engineering. She actively recruits students and researches their strengths and interests to place them into laboratories to be mentored by KU faculty. Her work involves promoting diversity to foster a scientific community that is academically capable of future improvements.
Villafuerte encourages the students involved with the programs to build connections and encourages this by holding training sessions and providing food. She finds tutors for students within the same day she’s asked and keeps in contact with the students to make sure they are succeeding. She has monthly meetings with the students in her programs to assure they are on track for the programs they are applying for.
Notable: When a new student decided to come to KU, Villafuerte assisted the student to make sure the move was pain-free and easy. She helped the student find an apartment, picked them up from the airport and followed up to make sure they had all that they needed and were adjusting well. That experience is not unique. Villafuerte is known for letting students borrow her car to buy groceries or lend them needed supplies such as luggage or storage containers. When lunchtime comes around, crowds of students are in the Office for Diversity in Science Training indulging in the baked goods and food she often makes to share with others. She also hosts Thanksgiving dinner for students who are away from home.