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EU’s Unsung Hereos: Administrative Assistants

If you have ever scheduled an appointment with a professor, or if you have ever had a meeting on the third floor of Walton, you have probably interacted with the administrative assistants. You may know one – or several – of the admin assistants. When you call a department to schedule an appointment with a professor, or even call the Cushing Center for Academic Services to schedule a test, you are speaking with the people that set the gears in motion. The admin assistants of Eastern University provide several different services, and it is about time that they were recognized for their hard work.

Peder Weigner is an alumnus of Eastern and currently works as the admin assistant for the Office of Talent and Career Services. “One of the main priorities of this type of position is to make sure students feel welcomed in the office, make sure the students’ questions are addressed, refer students to the appropriate office, or, in my case, make appointments for them in the Talent & Career Development office,” Peder notes. “I have had the opportunity to take on major projects that have pushed me to find strategies to manage my time as well as my growing list of tasks and goals.”

Trish Sakal, another administrative assistant, manages counseling, testing, and tutoring services. “I am the first face of the Cushing CCAS office, where many important services are housed. I make sure the students come in for the many services, whether it be tutoring, writing assistance, counseling, accommodations, or what have you.” And, she points out, you ought never to refer to them as “secretaries.” “The term ‘secretary’ is such an outdated and stereotypical term,” Trish explains.

But students are not the only priority. Faculty success is also a top priority. As Amy Nielsen, administrative assistant of the Business, Chemistry, and Communications departments explains, “Administrative assistants provide support for students and faculty. While most of their work is behind the scenes, their role is very important to ensure the smooth running of day to day operations. Responsibilities include anything from answering phones, making copies to addressing issues in the buildings, bigger projects for departments, event planning, and a myriad of other tasks.”

Often, there are many things about the position of an administrative assistant that can often be overlooked. One such thing, according to Trish, is that the job requires sharp eyes and keen memorization. “Something that I do in my day-to-day jobs that is often overlooked is to try to make more personal connections and meet students, as well as memorizing names and faces to the best of my ability.”

The admin assistants love what they do, and they can serve as empathic listeners, as Linda Hytha, former Youth Ministry admin assistant-turned Student Success Advisor explains. “During almost nine years at Eastern, my greatest joy has been helping students find their way. Being there through the small inconveniences that make up a student’s day, to the painful struggles that make up a student’s life, seems to fulfill God’s purpose for my vocation.” Peder, Amy, Trish, and Linda all want to stress that being an admin assistant is “not always about the paperwork.”

At the heart of it, the admin assistants each enjoy their jobs, as it enables them to meet many different people. “What an honor it is to participate in the holistic development of so many of the wonderful students here at Eastern!” Linda emphasizes. Service is the highest priority. Amy states, “As with anything, whether you are an employee in the higher levels of administration, a faculty member, or in a support staff position, the importance of the heart and a willingness to serve cannot be understated. Colossians 3:23 ‘Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.’”

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