Kanikka Wofford was thrilled to land a permanent job at UNLV in January 2020 after a year on contract.
Then, just as she was beginning to find her way in her new job as an administrative assistant IV in the office of decision support and getting to know her co-workers, she was sent home — along with everyone else, courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remote working presented numerous obstacles — especially for someone still learning the many processes, such as Workday, that are essential to her job — but Wofford’s colleagues said she thrived despite the challenges, becoming someone they knew deserved the 2022 President’s Rookie of the Year Award.
Looking back at those early days
Although I had had some experience in Workday, there was so much I had to learn for my new job. I am the only AA in my office. Fortunately, one of our analysts, Theresa Farmer, used to have my job. She created some training manuals and did a lot of training with me and was a mentor.
Having to move to fully remote work shortly after I began was a challenge. The virtual workshops that were offered for things such as manager financial reporting really helped. You could take them more than once if you needed to. The Workday support staff were very helpful, too.
Describe a typical day
Now we are working a hybrid schedule — some days from home and some in the office. My day always begins with coffee. I wake up and check calendars — make sure Webex links are set up, that all the meetings are scheduled properly with all the resources necessary. Then I work with all the emails. If anyone requests surveys or data from the department, I sometimes handle those requests. I also do projects with a team of analysts.
I was a student first. I started as an undergraduate here. I don’t have my degree yet because life happened. My children are 6 and 4. My son will start kindergarten in the fall.
I still am working on my degree, a BA in economics. I began as a math major, but switched. Lee Business School has so much support and resources for its students. I am using the tuition support program to help pay for my degree.
I’ve always known I wanted to work in education. I knew there were a lot of benefits to combining work and school. Before moving to Nevada, I was at Victor Valley College in Victorville, California.
Finish this sentence. I can’t work without….
Coffee and a good internet connection. Working in a hybrid environment, I find myself using WebEx a lot.
Tips for an employee new to UNLV?
Network. Do not be afraid to ask questions. There are so many people who have been here for many, many years who have a breadth of knowledge. You can find advice anywhere. You can find insight anywhere. I have never found anyone who wasn’t willing to help.
Something people would be surprised to learn about you.
I think that I was born on Christmas Day. People find that so interesting. My mom’s birthday is Christmas Eve. I always tell people that there is a lot of redundancy. For all of my childhood birthdays, it was the same birthday, same relatives, same dinner. As a kid I was so desperate to have a summer birthday when you could swim. A benefit, though, was that I got presents from relatives who weren’t there for other people’s birthdays.
Now I celebrate on a different day. I move it a week out and celebrate on New Year’s Eve when there are fireworks.
Your perfect vacation would be?
I have been meaning to do a trek through Europe. I’ve never found the time. I’ve really been into the history of England and all of the changing politics in Western Europe. I would like to see Italy and France.
Outside of work
I have a new interest. I have to thank my team members for that. They like to play pickleball when they can. Also, they are all very outdoorsy. Now I’m taking more walks and just getting my kids outside more. We are exploring different parks.
Where will you be in 20 years?
I have a huge passion for education. I may still be here. I just feel like there is so much happening at UNLV. I might be in administration. There are so many people doing interesting work here I am passionate about STEM, particularly math.
A TV show, book, or movie to recommend?
One of the books I read recently that is helping me is Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes. It’s a book about pushing herself out of her comfort zone. She was so linearly focused on her career that she forgot to look at other things. What I’ve learned is that life will always have something for you to do. Say “yes” to more things.
What People Nominating Her Had to Say
Brent Drake, vice provost for decision support:
“Three months into the job we had to say to her, 'Hey we know you are still learning Workday processes and our procedures for how we operate within the department, but please grab your computer and head home. We will let you know when we will be back in the office in person.' Despite having joined our department and having to learn her position in one of the most disruptive moments in UNLV’s history, Kanikka dove into her position with passion and skill and has far exceeded our hopes and expectations for her. Despite the unique demands of working remotely for the majority of her tenure in the position, including the necessity to have to self-train on many aspects of her position, Kanikka has met every deadline, every requirement, and every unique challenge our department and her position has thrown at her.”
Christina Drum, manager of institutional research, analytics, and metadata:
“On a daily basis, through her warmth, wit, professionalism, positivity, and enthusiasm, she supports and inspires the people with whom she works, in the office of decision support and in the broader campus community.”
Theresa Farmer, course evaluation research analyst:
“Her curiosity, sense of humor, and unflusterable approach to problem solving ensure that it will be an enjoyable experience working on the task or project and the end result will be accurate and done well.”