20, No. 8, Oct. 19, 2000
On the Job: Gloria Sax
Mabry, Assistant Editor
(217) 244-1072; email@example.com
by Bill Wiegand
Sax has been administrative secretary to the head of the department
of animal sciences for four years. She started at the UI nearly
six years ago after getting out of the hectic surety-bond
Sax has been administrative secretary to Robert Easter, head of the
department of animal sciences, for four years. She started at the UI
nearly six years ago after working in the hectic surety-bond industry
in Chicago for 20 years. She is single, has a home with large perennial
gardens in Champaign, and is a devoted volunteer to several organizations.
started at the UI in microbiology. Why did you move to the department
of animal sciences?
I love animals. My mother was raised on a farm, so I thought this might
be an interesting job. And it is. I love it. Its nice to be in
an environment where other people also love animals. And the people
in this department are very pleasant to work with.
Whats your background?
In my last job
I was a surety bond manager in Chicago. When I
started in 1974 it was fun, but when the economy changed, the industry
changed and it wasnt fun anymore. And also during that time, my
dad was dying of cancer. People would come to me with their surety bond
problems like they were life-and-death situations, and then Id
go home and see my dad, and Id think, this is ridiculous.
I put things in perspective and decided not to do it anymore.
I loved gardening so I thought maybe I should go into horticulture.
I went to Joliet Junior College and got an associates degree in
horticulture. That was in 1994. I was going through a divorce and so
I was kind of in transition, so I moved here to work on a four-year
degree. But I started taking chemistry classes, and I decided horticulture
should just be a hobby.
What do you do with your free time?
Well, I like to garden still and another hobby I have is stained glass.
Probably the major thing I do is foster kittens for the Humane Society.
I started out with a litter at a time and this last spring I started
taking more. Ive had about 20 foster kittens at a time since spring.
Im finally down to 13. And theyre in addition to my own
Theyre all in the house?
Yes, but my fosters dont run loose. I have them in my spare bedroom
in [large] individual cages so they have lots of room to run. In the
morning and at night I clean their cages and feed, water and medicate
them and change their litter boxes.
Why do you do foster kittens?
If you love cats, what could be better than having little kittens all
the time? And theres a real need for foster homes.
I heard youre also an Illinois Radio Reader
[a local reading service for visually impaired].
Yes, Ive done that for about two years. Its a very simple
thing. Basically I go and sit in a little room with a tape recorder
and read articles from local newspapers. I do that during my lunch every
Do you do other volunteer work?
Hospice. I started out as a regular hospice volunteer, where Id
have a patient assigned to me, and I would do whatever the patient or
the family needed.
And then they started a grieving childrens support group about
four years ago. I took the training and became a facilitator in the
childrens group. They have those sessions usually in the fall
and spring. Its an eight-week program, once a week for an hour.
We have different activities, like they make a collage that reminds
them of the person who died. The children also plan a memorial service
because quite often the children dont have any input at the time
of the funeral, and in the seventh week they have the memorial service
and can invite whomever they want.
You must have a pretty big heart.
Well, I dont think of myself that way. I dont have children
so maybe I just need to get some nurturing and caregiving out of my
system. And the people Ive met through the shelter and hospice
the families and the fellow volunteers are really wonderful
What does it take to be a good secretary?
I find it really helpful to me that I have a varied background. I think
it has given me the information and confidence and ability to try to
figure out what should be done in certain situations and act on it
What is the best part of this job?
The best part of is that I never wake up and groan because I have to
go to work. I always look forward to coming here. And for the most part
I dont take it home with me. And while Im here I enjoy it
I enjoy the people, the work, the environment and the attitude.