By Chip Chandler 

A diligent planner responsible for some of West Texas A&M University’s most artistic events was named Employee of the Year at a June 14 celebration.

Lauren Gaston, a 4 1/2-year WT veteran, won a cash prize, free parking for a year and more during WT’s All-Staff Service Awards, held June 14 in Legacy Hall inside Jack B. Kelley Student Center.

Gaston was voted Employee of the Year by faculty and fellow staff members amid a field of 12 other employees of the month. Two staffers were named employees of the month in August.

"WT has been a home to me for many years, first as a student and now into my professional career," Gaston said. "It is a privilege to work with so many wonderful people; they make WT a truly special place. I’m extremely honored and humbled by this award and grateful to be a WT Buff."

Gaston is a community outreach and event coordinator for the Sybil B. Harrington College of Fine Arts and Humanities, responsible for planning events across the college, particularly in the Department of History.

“Lauren takes great pride in making sure that whatever event she is working on really showcases the department or college,” wrote Dr. Jessica Mallard, dean, in a nomination letter. “She is very enthusiastic and that enthusiasm spreads across everyone in the office.”

Dane Glenn, president of the WT Staff Council, praised Gaston for her reliability.

“If there is project or event happening in the college, Lauren is definitely the woman behind the curtain in our maroon-and-white ornamented Oz,” Glenn said. “She is always willing to help and to make whoever or whatever shine to its fullest. Dependable and reliable are not strong enough words.”

Gaston’s fellow employees of the month included Chance Haugen, then-director of JBK Student Center; Amanda Rogers, Admissions; Stanley Pena, Office of Vice President for Business and Finance; Jennifer Denham, Office of Teacher Preparation; Chris Morgan, Business Office; Mickie Scantling, Purchasing; Alyssa Mince, Print Shop; Andrea Porter, director of Extended Studies; LuAnne Rickwartz, director of Student Medical Services; Andy Kraus, Information Technology; Meri Lyn Odell, University Police Department; and Mary Rausch, Cornette Library.

Also recognized at the luncheon were all employees who have worked at WT for significant numbers of years:

Forty years: Ernie Foreman, SSC.

Thirty years: Roy York, SSC; Lori O’Toole, Student Medical Services; and Robert Lauffer, Athletics.

Twenty-five years: Loretta Moore, SSC; Emil Shipman, SSC; Chari Lueb, JBK Student Center; and Candy Marshall, Student Medical Services.

Twenty years: Tadhi Hayes, SSC; Beth Vizzini, Cornette Library; Gilberto Antunez, Department of Education; Pyxa Sovilay, Upward Bound; Tracy See, School of Music; Brandi Clark, Registrar’s Office; and Elosia Reyna, Student Engagement and Leadership.

Fifteen years: Tracee Post, President’s Office; Cindy Riggs, SSC; Marilyn Shuman, SSC; Lynsee Bjork, Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business; Misty Hobbs, Engler College of Business; Vicki Hamblen, College of Nursing and Health Sciences; Michelle Blake, Educational Services; Robert Thompson, Environmental Safety; Clifford Henthorn, Information Technology; and Tina Good, Athletics.

Ten years: Jeanette Jarnagin, Business Office; Brandon Johnson, University Police Department; Sherri McIlroy, Office of Vice President for Business and Finance; Mickie Scantling, Purchasing; Vicky Buckelew, College of Engineering; Michelle Kirksey, Nursing; Kimberly Kopke, Student Counseling Services; Rachel Williams, Student Financial Aid; Margarita Cooper, SSC; Gaby Rosales, SSC; Rita Smith, Graduate School; Krista Favela, Information Technology; Stacy Scheller, Information Technology; and Brent Seals, Athletics.

Five years: Jeffrey Mayo, Purchasing; Stanley Pena, Office of Vice President for Business and Finance; Eric Sosa, Business Office; Michael Crippen, Advising Services; Cindy Grabbe, Terry B. Rogers College of Education and Social Sciences; Berlin McIntosh, History; Amy Criss, Veterans Services; Samantha Green, Office of Professional and Career Services; Elizabeth Lopez, Residential Living; Beth Mowry, Office of Professional and Career Services; Mary Torbert, Upward Bound; Kelton Weller, Admissions; Tanner Johnston, Information Technology; Michael Young, Information Technology; Kristin Johnson, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum Bookstore; Gregory Gibson, Athletics; Justin Haddan, Athletics; William “Hunter” Hughes, Athletics; Shawn Neale, Athletics; and Casey Shingler, Athletics. 

Staff members who retired in 2022 also were recognized: Linda Elliott, Tommy Sweat, Connie Fordham, Barbara Palmer, Debra Carter, Marian Giesecke and Betty Stocker.

Also celebrated were outgoing and incoming members of the WT Staff Council, as were employees who completed academic degrees in the past year: Angelica Veronica Medina, Jeremie Austin Middleton, Patrick William Diepen, Varatharaj Varatharaj, Beth Ann Vizzini, Eric Michael Sosa, Tyler Steven Findley, Dalanie Rachelle Underwood, Jordyn Dayne Dunaway, Sharon Kay Murdock and Amy R. Clifton.