What’s the most important aspect of your job?
Speaking with students directly. We speak to them so often we know their voices. Sometimes students need extra support, and (admissions and records officers) make sure they get that assistance. If there’s a personal or academic crisis, we get them in to talk to a dean. It’s a huge responsibility to every student and it’s important they know they aren’t just a number on their i-card. They are a person. We may hear the same question a hundred times, but each student deserves our time and answers to their questions.
What is the pace of your job like?
What I do depends on the moment. As an office, we served 12,000 students last year. It’s such a busy time right now we don’t know whether we’re coming or going. AROs wear many hats here. Our knowledge and expertise are interchangeable – we’re like parts of a Mr. Potato Head. It’s very fast-paced, but this is a well-oiled machine. We just finished certifying for December grads and now we’re prepping the May grads. We’ll talk with any student who needs help.
What special skills do you bring?
I like to think everything I’ve done professionally has led to this position. I worked as a retail banker for BankChampaign then spent 12 years with the UI Division of Public Safety in telecommunications. I’ve been in LAS for six years. The field demands confidentiality and accuracy. AROs make sure students continue to make academic progress and meet degree requirements. My love for numbers and people has really come to fruition.
What are your co-workers like?
I wish the entire ARO team were here because they are just amazing. It’s the Magnificent Seven, it really is. Everyone is professionally supportive of one another and ready to assist in our efforts to serve students. I have no problems getting up in the morning and coming to work.
How long has your office been in the Computing Applications Building?
For about 18 months now. We were in Lincoln Hall but that building is undergoing some major renovation. We’re not sure how long we’re going to be here – it’s smaller quarters than what we had in Lincoln, but we make it work.
Have you ever had a student whose last name started with “STB”?
No, that’s just the place in the alphabet where they divide the students up among us.
Where’s the strangest place a student sought degree-finishing advice?
I get questions here and away from campus and I always try to be helpful. We were at a wedding and a student, who was also an usher at the wedding, comes up to me and wants to discuss his LAS non-primary language requirement. We discussed it over cake at the reception.
Outside of your job, what’s the most enjoyable part of being a part of the University of Illinois?
We’ve had basketball season tickets for 27 years and we have football season tickets as well. But it’s not just basketball and football. We’re very supportive of all the non-revenue sports. Many people have no idea how exciting it is to see a gymnastics meet. We’re trying to see every sport.
What hobby do you enjoy after work?
My dogs are the main reason for holding a full-time job in the first place. I’ve trained dogs since I was 14, and my husband, William, trains as well. We met at a dog show and I proposed to him six weeks later. Our daughter, Elaine, also trained and showed dogs when she was at home. Sometimes we’ll bring some of our dogs to campus and people come up to pet them. The students completely love it. The best thing in life is to be outside and have a dog by your side. We’re also avid hunters and like to hunt geese. I’ve always been the better goose shot than Bill.
What kind of dog training do you do?
We train retrievers and have shown all over the United States. We train and show for conformation (physical appearance), obedience, rally-obedience, competitive dock jumping, working certificates and hunt tests. And we have therapy dogs. We’ve finished several conformation champions and earned numerous performance event titles. Training begins the day a dog is welcomed to the family and continues its entire life. We set boundaries and realistic expectations for each dog. The rest is practice, patience, perseverance and praise.
Do you have a favorite dog quote?
Yes, it’s by Milan Kundera: ‘Dogs are our link to paradise. They don’t know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.”