Sharon Altman, an administrative assistant IV at the Public Lands Institute, recently was chosen as the top recipient of the President's Classified Employee of the Year Award. As someone who began her career with the state as a clerk trainee, this 15-year UNLV employee said she hopes she can serve as an example of how employees can work their way up.
What brought you to UNLV?
My son was going to school here so I thought I might as well work here. Now he works here as a part-time instructor in English. His name is James Altman.
I like it here. It's different from working for the "regular" side of the state. I like the kids. I like the atmosphere. I can't think of any other place I'd rather work.
What jobs have you had here?
I began as an administrative assistant II in women's basketball in 2000. Then I moved to the athletics business office as an AA III. In December 2004, I joined the Public Lands Institute to become an AA IV.
I think I am a good example to people of how you can work up. We were living in Yerington when my son started middle school. I went to work as a clerk trainee in the Division of Child and Family Services. A week later I took the administrative aide test and have worked my way up from there.
Do you have a typical day?
Not really. If someone says, "Can you help me with this?" I say, "Sure." I prepare a lot of contracts for part-time instructors near the beginning of each semester. I've always thought every job description should end with "other duties as assigned."
What good advice did you get when you arrived on campus?
What I got was some good training -- from the student workers! I started on a Monday. The women's basketball team and the coaches left Wednesday morning for a road trip. The student workers trained me while everybody was gone.
Advice for a New Employee
Ask questions of the people who have worked here for a long time and listen to what they say. I have not run across anybody here who did not want to help you by answering a question.
Also, remember that everybody makes mistakes. When you make a mistake, admit it, fix it, and try not to make the same one again. Once when I was calculating the money the team would need for food during a road trip, I somehow counted one less day than they would be gone. They already were on their trip when I realized my mistake. I didn't want the players and coaches to suffer, so I found someone in the business office to help me fix the problem. I admitted my mistake, and she was glad to help me.
Favorite Spot on Campus
I like the Student Union. I like going there and seeing each new crop of young students as they come in, just to see how much younger they are getting each year -- I know it's them getting younger and not me getting older!
Favorite Book or Movie
I like older things. I have always enjoyed Agatha Christie -- anything she wrote. And I like old movies. Two favorites are John Wayne's Big Jake and Casablanca. The last "new" movie I saw was the remake of True Grit. I don't want to see graphic violence. I don't want to be shocked. If I want to be shocked I can read the newspapers.
Something People Would Be Surprised to Learn
Probably that I love Eminem's music. When I'm not listening to Ray Price and Bill Anderson, I'm listening to Eminem. He's rude, he's crude, and he apparently doesn't respect women very much, but I like his music. I had to get past a lot of his language and then listen to the music.
Tell Us About the Tattoos
I started with the tattoos in 2009. Once I got started, I just couldn't stop. I can't go anywhere without somebody noticing them. I have had people come all the way across the room to talk to me about them.
Technically I have only three. One starts at one wrist, goes up my arm, across my chest and down my back, and then down the other arm to the other wrist, but it's all one tattoo. Then I have one on each leg. They are all butterflies, flowers, and birds. I am definitely a girly girl. I am not going to work in the dirt with you. I am not changing a tire. I'm not breaking a nail for anybody.
I'm glad I work at someplace that doesn't try to stifle me. Peg (Rees, interim vice provost for educational outreach) says, "We're all about diversity on this campus."
What the Nominator Said
Rochelle Sanchez, operations manager for the Division of Educational Outreach, said, "Sharon has a positive 'can-do' attitude. Over the course of the last several years, our office has undergone many changes. We have taken on the management of new grants, undergone organizational restructures, numerous office locations, and dealt with covering vacant support staff positions. Each change resulted in an increase to Sharon's workload. Sharon handled all of these changes and challenges with a positive attitude. She is always willing to help and get the job done no matter what the circumstances. Her dedication, ability to research issues, and provide solutions to many different issues has increased the functionality of our division."