Jessica Bengtson (BENG-son) is an office administrator for the administrative services unit of the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Bengtson started at the university as Extra Help in August 1995 before being hired full-time by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences as a secretary III in December. In 2000, she moved to Vet Med as a secretary IV, was promoted to secretary V, and assumed her current position in 2009.
Born in Decatur, Bengtson attended high school at the National Academy of Arts in Champaign where she studied dance until it closed just before her senior year. She graduated from Mount Zion High School and earned an associate’s degree in general studies from Parkland College.
Bengtson has been married to her husband, Steve, a local area network specialist at McKinley Health Center, for 20 years. They live in Urbana with their two sons, Nick and Adam, ages 18 and 14, respectively.
Bengtson also is the president-elect of the Secretariat, the fellowship organization for office professionals on campus that’s celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
What’s your typical day like?
I usually meet with my boss, Ginger Winckler, first thing in the morning to help get her started on her day. I handle Ginger’s calendar and correspondence, and anything else she needs me to take care of.
I also work on the Web sites of some of the various units we work with. I handle a lot of phone calls, put out small fires, engage in a lot of fact-finding missions and follow up on things to keep them progressing.
A percentage of my time is spent working for the human resources service center here at the college, and I try to support them as much as I can.
Over the last few years, we’ve really surrounded ourselves with good people, so it’s a very cohesive team. It’s just a pleasure to work with people like that.
What do you love most about your job?
The challenge. I love the busyness and constant change of my job. Even the stress is good stress, because I feel like I’m being challenged.
One thing that has been really nice coming up the ranks is that the people you work with have the opportunity to see what your strengths are, and allow you to do the things you do well and feel really good about the support you’re able to provide.
I’m one of those lucky people who actually loves her job. I really do. Even the things that are difficult about it are learning experiences. At the end of the day, I always take something away that I learned or gave me food for thought to be better in what I do and who I am.
What’s your biggest challenge on the job?
Organization. This job requires a lot of organization; so much so that it’s really hard if it’s not completely natural to you, which it’s not. I like to say that I’m organized at work, but not at home. When I’m in work mode, I’m totally focused on work. When I’m at home, I’m more relaxed.
What do you like to do off the job?
For the past 20-plus years, I’ve taught ballet and other forms of dance at the local park districts.
I’m a part-time soccer mom, which is nice because I get to spend hours outdoors in a lounge chair beside the field.
I like to crotchet and needlepoint, and I read with a passion. I love the new Champaign library. What a beautiful place.
What do you like to read?
I’ll read anything, but I like medical suspense thrillers and novels by Dean Koontz. When I read, it’s to take me away.
You spent some time abroad as a high school student. What was that like?
I lived in southern France for a summer when I was 15 years old. I went with a girlfriend and we stayed with a teacher who had previously taught at the National Academy in Champaign.
To be 15 and in another country, not many people can say that. I’ve had a lot of experiences that most people don’t ever get to have. Now, to have a fantastic husband, great kids and a job that I love, I feel truly blessed.