Tucked behind a canopy of mesquite trees in the northeastern corner of the university, the UNLV Foundations Building has a low profile on campus. But step inside, and everyone from students to donors to dignitaries is immediately made to feel welcome. That's the job -- or at least part of the job -- of Ariana Renick, the Foundation's new front desk receptionist and administrative assistant.
I was registrar at a charter school before coming here; my mom's a teacher. I've always enjoyed being in an educational environment. And it's an opportunity for me take classes at UNLV while working. I've got an associate's degree from CSN and this fall started working toward a bachelor's degree in English.
Describe what you do -- in 10 words or less.
I'm the face of the Foundation -- a visitor's first impression.
Tell us about an interesting front desk encounter.
The governor of Nevada was here recently for an event. I didn't meet him, but it definitely was interesting to meet his advance team who came to do a security check. A lot of high-profile people come through the door -- people I never thought I would have a chance to meet.
What's the most challenging part of your job?
When I started, I was terrified that I wouldn't recognize VIPs who expected to be recognized! Now, I've got a good handle on the job. People think that I'm just a receptionist who says "Hi," takes calls, and signs for packages, but I also do work for the Foundation's records, research, and accounting departments.
Fill in the blank: I can't work without
Change! I'm always looking to take on some new project.
Who is your role model?
She would be very surprised to hear this, because our relationship has had its ups and downs, but it's my mother. When she succeeds at something, she looks for the next challenge. She was a single mom, but was capable of handling it all. I never wanted for anything growing up: private school, summer camp, European travel.
What was your proudest moment?
I was very young when I had my son, Landon. My proudest moment was when I realized that I was going to be able to handle being a mom. He was about 5 months old, and I suddenly knew that I could handle being responsible for his life, and my own.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
When I graduated from high school (in Pennington, N.J.), I was a free spirit, an A student. I hung out with the "art" crowd. Nobody would have expected that I would have a baby at 20, and be settled down with his dad in our own house by the time I reached 24. Real life came very fast. It surprised me, too! I've got a tattoo, in French, which reads: "live without regrets, love without fear, do harm to no one." That's how I live.
You say you are a "dog" person. If you were a dog, what breed would you be?
A lab. They're not too exotic -- people are comfortable with them. They love food, are playful, energetic, curious.