When he arrived at Harvard, Max Vumbaca ’19 didn’t expect his work-study job to define his postgraduate plans. Then he started working at First Church Shelter in Cambridge, and things changed.
Vumbaca, who’s concentrating in philosophy, found the position at First Church in 2018 after two years volunteering at the student-run Harvard Square Homeless Shelter. He sets up and runs a weekly dinner service for 14 shelter residents and occasionally works a 12-hour overnight shift.
“I knew I wanted to do some kind of public service while at Harvard,” said Vumbaca. “Working at First Church has really influenced what kind of work I want to do after graduation and set me on the path of recognizing that housing and homelessness is a visible, pressing issue.”
Vumbaca’s job is one of the many student employment experiences celebrated at the recent Harvard Student Employee of the Year event, hosted by the Student Employment Office and the Griffin Office of Financial Aid. He and 23 other students were nominated for the award by their workplace supervisors on- and off-campus. Eleanor Lieberman ’19 was this year’s winner for her work as an assistant for the Division of Academic and Public Programming at the Harvard Art Museums. Lieberman’s supervisors highlighted her creativity and professionalism in creating colorful sticker packs based on the hues found in the Museums’ Forbes Pigment Collection and an archival research project on the Naumburg Room.
The event was held April 18 as part of National Student Employment Week.
According to the Student Employment Office, 78 percent of students work in some capacity during their time at Harvard, and 39 percent of seniors said they started working during their first year on campus. The honorees at the event included students working in research, administration, and childcare, and representing a range of experiences and academic backgrounds.