To an outsider, the Duke experience is represented by the iconic Duke Chapel, our world-renowned hospital, Cameron Crazies bundled up in K-ville and a focus on undergraduate research. The renowned professors and lecture series, student-faculty coordination, student initiative and philanthropy on a global scale are few of many defining characteristics.

But it is often easy to forget the most crucial aspect in the flurry of midterm exams, sports victories and stressful internship hunts. Duke University’s staff members help us navigate these four years through their tireless service to make Duke the wonderful institution we are so fortunate to attend. The delicious dining centers—from the Penn Pavilion to the Marketplace—generous bus drivers who slow down for us when we’re already sprinting to class, maintenance and Housing, Dining and Residential Life staff who always know how to fix anything and everything and so many more staff members who contribute to Duke each and every day. Many staff members also worked through that massive storm in February, providing basic services to students who otherwise might have been left out in the cold.

Over the past year, Durham workers have staged numerous protests against North Carolina’s $7.25 minimum wage—in compliance with the federal standard, but still significantly lower than the minimum wage in many other states. As the struggle for increasing workers benefits continues across the country, Duke University has long been hard at work making a better work environment for its employees. Among other accolades, Duke has been a Chronicle of Higher Education “Great College to Work For” for the past six years.

The student body plays an important part in this effort. How many of us take time out of our day to show our appreciation to a staff member? Many of us can agree that the answer is not nearly enough. As Duke students studying for future careers serving others, we are missing opportunities to learn from the shining examples that help us right here and now in service to our University. “Appreciation” shouldn’t be restricted to a single event, but a daily exercise in recognizing service by others. This year’s Staff Appreciation Day can be your invitation to this daily expression of thanks.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday, April 11, we'll be out at the Marketplace and Penn Pavilion offering our appreciation with Cookout shakes, thank-you card making stations with candy and staff appreciation awards. There will be Bojangles and a short movie about many of our wonderful staff members as well! The award ceremony will take place at noon, so please start nominating your favorite and closest staff members now! Who do you most look forward to seeing at your go-to eatery, who have you made friends with on the bus—or dressed up with for Halloween—who is tirelessly working to perfect your dorm when you head off to Spanish each morning? Perhaps you haven’t forged close bonds with anyone in particular yet, but now is the chance! There are still several weeks to begin friendships with members of Duke’s staff and to nominate them in time for Appreciation Day. Also, you can look forward to daily tidbits about some of our favorite staff members, unique facts, their funny stories and fond memories!

We hope you can find time to join us in celebrating the many wonderful people whose work is crucial to our Duke experience. Beyond Friday, let’s all take the opportunities we have each day to share with a staff member about our lives and how we interact with the world we want to impact. Because that reflection and friendship is the truest appreciation for their time and efforts we can show. So let’s thank that nearest staff member, and we cannot wait to see you April 11!

Brooke Shelton, Trinity ’16, and Zac Pearlstein, Trinity ’14, are DSG senators for social culture. Their column is the fifth installment in a semester-long series of biweekly columns written by members of Duke Student Government. Send Brooke and Zac a message on Twitter @DukeStudentGov.