Cassandra Davidson-Bryant was looking for a change when she arrived in Las Vegas in 2005. At UNLV she found not only change but a home that she says she won’t leave until she retires two years from now — with multiple college degrees.
The third-place recipient of the President’s Classified Employee of the Year took a few minutes to reflect on herself and her UNLV experience.
Tell us about your job.
I am an administrative assistant III working as an assistant to Dean Ann McDonough of the Academic Success Center (ASC).
There is no typical day. When students come into our Welcome Center, we make sure they get the information they need or connect them with the right person who can help them. We deal mainly with Exploring Majors and Pathway students.
Sometimes students and parents arrive frustrated because they have been given the runaround. We make sure they get the information they need. We don’t turn anyone away.
Was this your first job at UNLV?
No. I’ve been in this job for nine years, but when I moved here from Brooklyn, New York, I started at UNLV as a custodian.
I was looking for a change when I packed up and moved to Las Vegas to take care of my uncle, Claude Marsh. He had been working at UNLV as a custodian for 17 years. He was the one who got me into UNLV. He took me to see (then assistant director for custodial services) Phil Shealy. My uncle joked with him and said, “Give my niece a job and get her out of my pockets!”
Why do you stay at UNLV?
I stay because UNLV is my home. I have met wonderful people. I get to watch students start college, graduate, get their first job, and sometimes get married.
The Academic Success Center is definitely my family.
Advice for a new employee.
Learn as much as you can. Ask as many questions as you can. Meet as many people as you can.
What can people on campus do to make your job easier?
Research your information before you give it out to parents and students. If you are not sure, make a phone call before you give the information. Avoid giving students and parents the run-around because that is very frustrating for them.
People used to ask me directions all the time. I walked through campus one day so I could learn where every building is.
What was the first job you ever had? What did you learn from it?
That was working at Mays department store. I was a salesperson in the men’s department. I was only 16 and I learned that you have to go to work every day even if you don’t feel like it. If you want something, you’ve got to work hard for it.
I would fold the shirts and make them look all nice. Then somebody would come along and pick up a shirt and hold it up to look at it. Then they’d drop it back on the table I didn’t like that part at all.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
That I am a person who likes to spend time alone with a good book or a good movie. Usually, I’m entertaining and cooking for everybody. Once a year I have a big dinner — a barbecue — for all student workers from the ASC past and present. I think those students would say, “Wait. She can actually be still for a minute?”
A book, movie, or TV show to recommend?
My favorite movie is Imitation of Life with Lana Turner and (Oscar nominee) Juanita Moore. I love old movies.
My favorite book is Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown. It shows that even though you have a lot of struggles in life you just have to work hard and keep your head down. You can succeed in anything.
Finish this sentence. I couldn’t do my job without…
My team here at the ASC. If there is something I need to know, there is always someone I can ask. They just make my life a lot easier.
Working here has allowed me to graduate from CSN with a degree in culinary and event planning. Next year I will earn my BS in urban studies here at UNLV. I’ve used the grant-in-aid benefit to help pay for my education. If it wasn’t for Dean McDonough and the ASC, I wouldn’t be able to do it. The dean has been very supportive of me working on my degrees.
My degrees are “wants,” not “needs.” I do it to prove to my three granddaughters [22-year-old twins who are in school and a 19-year-old who is “deciding”] that you’re never too old to get an education. If you just want to get it, you can.
What the People Nominating Her Had to Say
Leilani Rojas, third-year film student and student worker at the Academic Success Center:
Her inspired professionalism and good work ethic serve as representative of the environment UNLV works to create. Cassandra is the definition of a UNLV community member: kind, enthusiastic, dedicated, loyal, reliable, and the true heart and soul of the ASC. I cannot think of anyone who deserves more recognition for their work at UNLV because I cannot think of anyone more devoted to this community than her.
Mitchell L’Allier, former front desk specialist, Academic Success Center:
I began working at the Academic Success Center as a front desk specialist in September of 2021. My first day of work was also my first day setting foot on the UNLV campus, where I was immediately met by Cassandra “Cassie” Davidson-Bryant. I’ll admit I was nervous at first, but those nerves soon vanished by Cassie's witty charm as she showed me the ins and outs of not only the ASC, but all of UNLV. I learned quickly that Cassie is the go-to person for any, and all problems or questions at the ASC. I was amazed at how much Cassie knew about everything on campus and at work. Not only was her job and campus knowledge impressive, but the amount of faculty and students that go to her directly seeking help is unmatched. With 16 years of dedicated work at UNLV it is not hard to see why Cassie is the gold standard of what it means to be a classified employee at UNLV.