University of Iowa’s CAMBUS recognizes John Underwood as the 2024 Support Person of the Year. The award was established by CAMBUSin 2019 to recognize the support staff who serve in behind-the-scenes roles to keep the transit system operating smoothly. Underwood is from Keokuk, Iowa and began working at CAMBUS as a bus operator in Oct. 2021. He was promoted to student mechanic in May 2023. 

Support person of the Year 2024 and student mechanic John Underwood poses with his award

Underwood is studying Spanish on a pre-medicine track. As student mechanic, Underwood services the bus fleet alongside CAMBUS’ full-time technicians at the maintenance facility. He also supervises other student employees during the nightly clean-up shift when buses are cleaned and fueled.  

In their selection of Underwood, the CAMBUS supervisor and management team noted:

"John has built a positive reputation amongst all teams. He is dependable and a respected leader. He promotes a positive and friendly atmosphere at the maintenance facility, even under high-pressure situations, and continues to exceed our expectations. CAMBUS greatly appreciates John's contributions to the organization."

“This award is a huge accomplishment for me especially in feeling appreciated by my peers for the hard work that I do for CAMBUS,” Underwood says.  

Underwood is proud to contribute to high safety standards in the maintenance facility. He says his time at CAMBUS is improving his leadership and communication skills to “get the job done effectively and safely.”

The community environment at CAMBUS has been a confidence boost for Underwood. “It’s a safe workplace environment where I feel able to ask questions,” he says. Underwood’s enthusiasm to learn from full time staff helps make the maintenance facility run more smoothly. 

“It’s a safe workplace environment where I feel able to ask questions,”

John Underwood, student mechanic

Underwood encourages incoming CAMBUS applicants to do it for the personal improvement. “I think it’s a great idea because there’s no risk behind it,” he says, “Having your CDL opens up a lot of opportunities and the promotions can look great on résumés in the future.”

Honorable Mentions

The selection committee also recognized the following drivers as honorable mentions for Support Person of the Year:

  • Justin Simmering, student mechanic
  • Parker Volkman, dispatcher
About the Support Person of the Year award

To complement the annual Driver of the Year award, CAMBUS began selecting a Support Person of the Year in 2019. To be eligible for the award, employees in support positions must meet the same criteria as the Driver of the Year award, plus have served in a support role for the past year.   

Criteria for award eligibility includes a clean work record, no attendance violations, and an excellent safety record. The CAMBUS management and student supervisor team evaluate the list of eligible candidates to select an overall award winner. The CAMBUS team looks at factors such as previous recognitions received throughout the year, feedback from other staff, and their contributions to creating an inclusive and positive workplace experience. 


CAMBUS is the University of Iowa’s student operated, no fare public transit system that provides fixed-route service throughout campus and demand-response paratransit services for qualifying persons. On average, 160 student-employees operate transit services across the university campus. Their responsibilities begin with driving but can grow to include training, dispatching, assisting with maintenance, and supervising. CAMBUS works in collaboration with other Parking and Transportation Department units to provide and support access and mobility for students, faculty, staff, patients, and visitors. For more information about our services visit the CAMBUS page or call 319-335-8633.