Theresa Boucher is a helper. She's there in the dean's office for students, co-workers, and her new boss in the Lee Business School, as well as first-generation students across campus.
While she doesn’t do that in order to gain any recognition, her hard work over the past seven years has not gone unnoticed. She recently was named the first-place recipient of the 2020 President’s Classified Employee of the Year award.
What brought you to UNLV?
I came as a student. I began working as a temporary employee in (what was then) the College of Business. Then they had an AA leave in the management department. They put me in that position as a student worker. Then a position in the marketing department opened up. For a while I did both jobs, but by 2014 I was just in marketing. In January 2015 I moved into my current job of executive assistant to the dean.
What about your studies?
I’ve earned two degrees at UNLV — a BS in Marketing in 2008 and an MBA in 2013.
What are some of your general job duties now?
I call it miscellaneous because of all the different things I do. I support the dean and the dean’s office. We have four other (associate) deans and many staff members. I organize meetings. I work on a lot of special projects. I built a rocket for homecoming! I like to “pretty-fy” things, as they call it. I do graphic design for report covers. In addition to my UNLV degrees, I also have an AA degree in commercial art from Tampa Technical Institute in Florida and an AA degree in business from CSN. And, I have certificates in web design and graphic design.
I also am the advisor for the First Generation Club on campus. I myself am first gen; my parents never graduated from college. I spent 15 years doing retail and decided that I wanted to do something more with my life, so I went back and got my degree. My sisters all got advanced degrees.
Campuswide, the First Generation Club has about 100 members. I took over and restarted it in 2015. I let the students do most of the work. We work closely with The Intersection. We have been doing a lot of virtual events.
I like to keep busy. I like to feel like I’m making a difference.
How has it been working from home?
Sometimes it’s hard. In the beginning part of me was a little depressed. Now I realize I need to (make the effort) to engage a little. I’m finding now that I enjoy being here at home. It worked out well, too, because I just bought a condo.
Business did a great job (helping us make the transition to remote work). They sent an IT coordinator out to our houses to set things up. They’ve been really great about it. We admins stay in touch. We all are chatting with each other and having Zoom meetings.
When we did a climate survey, the employees in Business had the highest rating of satisfaction among classified staff. We have each other’s backs and we support each other. I actually am happy to go to work.
If you had to change careers, what would you choose?
I’d still want to be able to help people — maybe help children to learn. I had people who helped me when I was a child who probably didn’t realize how much they were doing (for me). In high school I thought for a while about teaching art to children.
Advice for being successful at UNLV?
Be true to yourself and don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to other people. A lot of people know a lot of things and are willing to step up and help. Don’t be afraid to ask.
People who have helped you be successful at UNLV.
Sonja Longoria and Patricia Butler — both AAs in Business. They were here when I was a student. They encouraged me to reach higher and not give up — to believe in myself. They are the reason I became an AA in the college. They were encouraging and nurturing. I thought it would be cool to be there to help people (as they did). With Patricia Butler, you spend five minutes with her and you end up smiling and feeling better of yourself. They both have 20 years or more experience at UNLV. They have such great attitudes. When I grow up, that’s who I want to be! (said with a smile) One day I hope to be in their league.
Your first paying job ever?
I worked at a convenience store in Ocala, Florida, stocking the cooler. I was stocking beer, and wine, and soda. I probably was 15 or 16. I learned to be more organized and I met some really outgoing people. I learned to be engaged with others.
I am actually an introvert. At work, I am more extroverted. I am talking and joking. At home, I’m much quieter. When I get home I just want to curl up with a good book and shut everything out.
What is a job you never would want?
Anything with public speaking. I do not do well. Small groups and one-on-one, I’m great, but not large groups.
Your reaction to being chosen the President’s Classified Employee of the Year
I received an email, telling me. I had to email back and say, “Are you sure?
A show or book to recommend?
I like science fiction and fantasy. I like Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. I like some of the old-school stuff. I like anything that’s not “real” — science fiction, romance, mystery.
A dream vacation would be
Some cabin in the woods where I could read and be cut off from technology, not having to worry about taking care of something.
But I don’t take vacations. I haven’t gone on a real vacation in 10 or 20 years other than visiting family. Working at UNLV, though, allows me to meet people from all over the place and I get to experience some other cultures that way.
What would your last meal be?
My grandmother’s homemade noodles. It’s kind of like a chicken and dumpling thing. I do make them occasionally but it’s not the same; my grandmother puts love in them and it’s better.