For his genuine attention toward and care for everyone who enters the Veterans Resource Center, second-year student Denzel Pennix has received the 2020 Student Employee of the Year Award.

The Job Resource Center (JRC) honors a student every year for his or her efforts working in a department on campus. This individual is acknowledged for his or her standout work and influential contributions on the job. Denzel was nominated by his supervisor, Ryan Kelly, Veterans coordinator, and chosen from eight other contenders.

“He is a remarkable young man. He really does care about people he works with. In general, when you sit down with him, you’re going to get someone who will listen and pay attention. He’s always the first one to volunteer and has that heart. We’re really proud of him,” Kelly said.

As a member of the Illinois National Guard, Denzel has worked in the Veterans Resource Center for three semesters. He helps students fill out and process their necessary veteran paperwork to attend school, and is especially helpful for those in the National Guard, which can be a more confusing transition than other military branches. Denzel also is a tutor, covering all subjects from science and math to English. In addition to working in the center, he writes for the college paper, The Glacier, is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honors society, and is vice president of the student organization Boots to College.

“I get to help people and be comfortable in my own space. I can relax and help other people. It’s the best of both worlds,” Denzel said. “I really appreciate this recognition. I’ll continue to do my best to be someone who deserves this award.”

With the college closed due to COVID-19, the JRC was unable to hold its yearly recognition event and instead held a surprise online Zoom chat to congratulate him. Members of the JRC and other employees, some with balloons visible on screen or virtual celebratory backgrounds, shared the exciting news and congratulated him.

Denzel is in his last semester at Moraine Valley but is planning to transfer to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to study biology. He aspires to earn a master’s and PhD and work in a lab someday.