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Follow-Through and Commitment Set Award Winner Apart

Administrative assistant Isabelle Johnson recently was named as the President's Classified Employee of the Year. Read about how she’s gone above and beyond the basics of her job.
People  |  Jul 17, 2012  |  By Diane Russell
Isabelle Johnson of university communications is the President's Classified Staff Member of the Year for 2012. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Isabelle Johnson
Administrative Assistant IV
University Communications Office
Rebel Since: 2001

What you do: I manage the budget for all areas of the university communications office, including photo services and media relations. I also serve as editor of the UNLV master calendar and liaison for the Adopt-A-School program. And, I oversee the new UNLV-In-A-Box program.

More about Adopt-A-School and UNLV-in-a-Box: The Adopt-A-School program serves students at five local elementary schools whose students are considered to be "at-risk." We hold rallies for the students, encouraging them to do well on their tests and to plan on attending college -- hopefully at UNLV.

UNLV-In-A-Box was created for out-of-state elementary schools that want to "adopt" UNLV. We send the students T-shirts, posters, bumper stickers, and a letter from Hey Reb! encouraging the students to start thinking about attending college. If anyone on campus has items to contribute, they can contact me.

Couldn't do the job without: Post-it Notes. I love them.

Proudest achievement at UNLV: When I worked in the undergraduate recruitment office I enjoyed personally being able to help new students. I liked being that friendly face who helped answer their questions and reassured them that everything would be OK. They were just starting school and weren't sure what to do or what to expect. Some would stay in touch later. It was rewarding to see those same students eventually graduate. It personalized the job for me. I felt like I had made an impact.

A student, too: I'm a sophomore with a social science studies major. When I first came to work at UNLV in the registrar's office, it was the first glimpse of university life I had been exposed to. I am a first-generation college student. I had never thought of myself as college material, but then I saw the opportunities here.

That's one reason the Adopt-A-School and UNLV-In-A-Box programs hold a special place in my heart. Maybe if I had had something like that when I was a child, I would have thought a college education was something I could do.

Tip for new employees: Get out and meet people -- the people who know the ins and outs of how the university operates. Meet the people in facilities, the people who staff the help desks. These are the people who can help you learn how to get things done.

Campus connections: My husband, Cam Johnson, works in OIT.

Favorite movie: Gone With the Wind.

Dream vacation: I'm a winter traveler. I've always had dreams of traveling to Russia -- to see Red Square and St. Petersburg. The Romanoff family intrigues me.

What People Nominating Her for the Award Had to Say

In the nomination form, Barbara Childs, director of web and electronic communications, wrote on behalf of the communications office:

"Isabelle was originally hired to support three units in the university communications office, but due to budget cutbacks and changes in personnel, this year Isabelle has supported all five units in the office taking on an additional 1.5 FTE of work and traveling between three office locations. And, she does so with persistence, patience, and an ever-present smile.

"Isabelle always has a positive attitude and you can count on her to know just about anything related to how our department functions and has a strong command of UNLV systems and processes.

"It's safe to say university communications would not be as successful as it is today without Isabelle. Her concern for our staff -- both student workers and professional staff -- is a model for others to follow. Her follow-through on office work, creative ideas in needed areas, and commitment to the university without a doubt qualify her for the Classified Staff of the Year Award."