Oberlin’s Tanisha Shende Named National Student Employee of the Year

Computer science and math double major is also a devoted advocate for other STEM students through her work with the Office of Undergraduate Research.

April 12, 2024

Communications Staff

Tanisha Shende.
Tanisha Shende, pictured with her awards for National Student Employee of the Year and Student Employee of the Year for Diversity and Inclusion, which were presented in conjunction with National Student Employment Week.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Tanisha Shende, a second-year student majoring in computer science and mathematics, has been named National Student Employee of the Year and Student Employee of the Year for Diversity and Inclusion, twin honors conferred by the National Student Employment Association (NSEA) this week.

The accolades were made possible through the effort of the Student Employment Office, which coordinated the nomination process.

Originally from Lodi, New Jersey, Shende is a key supporter of STEM studies at Oberlin and a driving force in the effort to ease the acclimation to college among first-generation and other underrepresented students. In the Office of Undergraduate Research, she serves as chair of the collective advocacy committee for Bridging Resources and Access to Nurture Community through Holistic Engagement in STEM (BRANCHES).

Shende is an active member of the STRONG (Science and Technology Research Opportunities for a New Generation) program and played a pivotal role in the successful merger of two other Oberlin programs—Roots in STEM, an identity-based residence hall cluster, and the Center for Learning, Education, and Research in the Sciences, or CLEAR—and improve student support in the process.

In her own research, Shende is part of a study examining classrooms and research spaces to identify barriers to STEM learning. She is also a member of a team working to make virtual and augmented reality technology more accessible to people with sensory processing disorders.

“Tanisha is one of those unique students who has a natural spark,” says Zach Slimak, Oberlin’s STEM program coordinator, who nominated Shende for the NSEA honors. “She recognizes how hard it can be for a student to find a community and a sense of belonging. She cares deeply about her position and goes above and beyond every day. She’s always willing to learn, always willing to teach, and always willing to be a leader for change. I am honored to know Tanisha and be a small part of her commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Shende learned of the honors at an April 9 gathering on campus that—to her surprise—was held in her honor. The guest list included Oberlin President Carmen Twillie Ambar, Vice President and Dean of Students Karen Goff, and Shende’s staff colleagues from the Office of Undergraduate Research—part of the Center for Engaged Liberal Arts, or CELA.

The honors coincide with Oberlin’s celebration of National Student Employment Week.

“I’m so grateful to everyone involved for making the reception such a special moment,” Shende says. “It’s an honor to be recognized for my efforts and be surrounded by incredible supporters. I’m looking forward to continuing my work!”

The NSEA is dedicated to promoting professional development, recognition, and advocacy for student employees in higher education. Oberlin joined the organization in 2022; this year marked the first time it has submitted a nominee for Student Employee of the Year. The NSEA confers awards in five categories: Community Service, Diversity and Inclusion, Leadership, Technology and Innovation, and Critical Thinking, as well as the overall award for Student Employee of the Year.

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