Sonja Longoria, an administrative assistant IV in the accounting department at the Lee Business School, recently was chosen as the second-place recipient of the President's Classified Employee of the Year Award for 2015. During her many years at UNLV she has worked under six business deans.
I like my job and the people I work with. In November I will have been here 22 years -- in the same college, in the same department, in the same office. I enjoy it here. I'm not going anywhere.
Something People Would Be Surprised to Learn
That I started off at UNLV as a clerical trainee. I was going to community college and raising three kids on my own and trying to make a difference.
I was a work-study student at the community college. They sent me on an errand to UNLV to pick up a check. While I was here, I decided to fill out a job application. I had to make a choice between my degree and my job. As a single parent, I chose the job.
Best Advice You Received As a New UNLV Employee
That came from Jan Banker, an administrative assistant III, who is now retired. She always advised me to be open to change because here at the university it can be one way one week and a different way the next. I attribute a lot of my success to her. She was a very good mentor.
Advice You Would Give a New Employee
I would tell them to be involved. Learn all that you can learn. Think outside the box. Contributing to my success has been that I am able to think outside the scope of my job.
A few years back, every department AA in the college struggled to support their department in a logical and efficient manner. Other administrative assistants often would come to me with questions since I had been here so long. I saw a need, so I started monthly meetings for all the AAs in the college so that we could coordinate. The whole college was supportive.
We invite other offices from around campus to guest speak so that we can stay current on policies and procedures. Now the AAs in our college are just a huge, cohesive group where we weren't before.
Your Job Now
I support the department and the chair. Then I spend about 50 percent of my time training the other AAs in the college. I have seven of them under me.
Your First Job
Working at an A&W (fast food restaurant) downtown near the courthouse. I was a counter person. That was back when I was young. It was fun. What I learned from it was responsibility and the importance of having a job.
Your Dream Vacation
Anywhere tropical with no technology. No computers, no phones, and no scanners. Just sand and beach and a tropical drink.
A Favorite Movie
The Notebook. I like the tear-jerking, hopelessly romantic movies that make me cry. I don't have a choice about crying; I cry at Hallmark commercials. I watch Undercover Boss and at the end of it I'm boohooing along with the rest of them.
What the Nominators Said
Lisa Davis, associate director of MBA programs, noted the value of Longoria starting the administrative assistants meeting: "This has been a welcomed monthly event for the staff and has boosted morale and collaboration among the departments. (Longoria) has streamlined processes within the college and created a handbook for AAs that assists them in their roles."
Marcella Kofford, administrative assistant III with the MBA programs, said, "She is a wonderful trainer. I'm grateful that she is so approachable and always willing to help answer questions. She has never made me feel like I was a bother to her with my million and one questions. Sonja wants every one of us administrative assistants to be successful. She is our 'cheerleader.'"
Theresa Boucher, executive assistant in the Lee Business School, said, "She is highly respected and admired by her peers in the Lee Business School. Sonja is always ready to help anyone... When things seem to be busy and hectic, she handles situations with a smile on her face and works tirelessly to complete tasks. Sonja is the type of person who makes us all want to do better."