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Congratulations to Cornell's Michelle Leonetti '14, named NACUFS National Student Employee of the Year!

13 May 2014

Michelle LeonettiMichelle Leonetti ’14, College of Human Ecology, was selected as the National Association of College & University Food Services (NACUFS) National Student Employee of the Year for 2014, announced Gail Finan, Director of Cornell Dining. The award is given annually to a student who best exemplifies reliability, quality of work, initiative, teamwork, and contribution to their employer. 

At a recent luncheon in her honor in Robert Purcell Community Center’s Wendy Purcell Lounge, Ms. Leonetti was presented with a plaque and received a $5,000 scholarship award from NACUFS. More information about NACUFS can be found at

“Michelle is my go-to student,” said Michele Lefebvre, Director of Nutrition Management for Cornell Dining. “I rely on her for ideas, for assistance in dealing with sensitive issues, and I always know she will do a thorough job beyond what was expected.”

An example of Ms. Leonettis contribution to Cornell Dining is her work in Risley Dining Room, said Lefebvre. While working at Risley’s grill station, Ms. Leonetti suggested and helped implement a change to the ordering process that encouraged student customers to make healthier dining choices, and reduced unit food costs, all while maintaining high customer satisfaction.

Ms. Leonetti has worked for Cornell Dining since her first year on campus. She currently works in three different areas within Cornell Dining: as a student manager for Cornell Dining Nutrition, a student supervisor in Risley Dining Room, and a student employee with Cornell Catering. She also maintains a 3.5 grade point average in Cornell’s Nutritional Sciences program.

Originally from Long Beach, New York, Ms. Leonetti said she chose to attend Cornell because its Nutritional Sciences program is one of the top programs in the country, and she knew it would be the best place to prepare her for a career in nutrition and dietetics.

“The best part of going to Cornell has been that it has forced me to go out of my comfort zone and challenged me to develop in ways that I didn’t expect,” said Ms. Leonetti. “The rigors of academics, extracurricular activities, and working for Cornell Dining have prepared me well for life after college.”

After graduation, Ms. Leonetti will be attending a dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to become a registered dietitian. She plans to use her $5,000 scholarship from NACUFS to pay the tuition for the dietetic internship and to contribute toward her college loans.

About Cornell Dining

Cornell Dining is consistently ranked in the Princeton Review’s top ten for best campus food among all colleges and universities in the country. That high rating comes from customer surveys, and reflects Cornell Dining’s commitment to serving high-quality foods that are healthy and creatively prepared with genuine care for a diverse community. Cornell Dining operates more than 30 on-campus eateries which include all-you-care-to-eat dining rooms, cafés, coffee houses, food courts, and convenience stores and serves more than 26,000 meals a day to members of the Cornell community. For more information, visit 

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