Femurs, and muscles, and skulls, oh my!
If you need to study anatomical models for one of your classes, the 2020 President’s Classified Employee of the Year is just the person to help you out. While overseeing the anatomical model collection housed in the reserve section of Lied Library is only one small part of Holly Samayoa’s job, she admits it is one of her favorite tasks.
“We have almost 100 that we check out — hearts, brains, different skeletons, arms, and legs — basically anything the students studying anatomy have to study," she said. Some of the models have names. "Lenny is just muscles, torso, and internal organs. Mandy is a full skeleton and only bones. We have skulls, too.
“This semester I tried to get students to use the iPads more. On iPads we have 3-D models. It’s quicker to clean those. The majority of the models still are available, though. Anything we can thoroughly clean can be checked out.”
General job duties
I am a library technician II. I usually work 3:30 until closing. I am the evening and weekend supervisor. I work with the circulation staff, helping students. I also am the reserves coordinator, gathering the items the professors place on reserve and processing the books CSUN purchases for reserves.
UNLV Libraries career start
It began when I was a student worker in ’09. Eventually, I ran out of loans and stopped going to school. Then I worked full time for a couple of years.
What jobs did you do?
What didn’t I do? I worked at the Paris as a photographer. I also worked as a substitute teacher. I worked at a payment processing center. I worked at the Nevada State Museum and then I also worked at the Springs Preserve.
I had been trying to get back to UNLV from the moment I left because I knew I wanted to continue on a library career path. Finally, I was able to get a full-time job here in 2018.
Four majors later (biology, kinesiology, music, and art history), I finally got my undergraduate degree — art history with a minor in music — in December 2019. It took me about 11 years but I finally finished.
It was a big help when I learned I could get tuition assistance through the grant-in-aid program to help me with my studies. I was first-gen. I didn’t have anyone to ask for help. For me, the librarians and my supervisor were my support system. I would ask them what I should do next. They wouldn't let me give up on school or my goals.
How did you settle on art history?
When I was a music major I wanted to major in music history but UNLV does not have that degree. When I left music (timpani — that was my jam), even though I was discouraged from continuing to pursue a degree in fine arts, the music librarian told me to pursue art history. That way I could be a fine arts librarian. Also, many of the credits I had earned would apply to that degree, too. The art history faculty was very welcoming and supportive. I am a visual person so art actually was a perfect fit. It was all meant to be.
The appeal of a career in libraries
I like the idea of giving people the tools to succeed. I had worked at the computer help desk in the libraries, helping students with questions. We were able to help students, pointing them to the right resources for their research. I like that the libraries always has resources to help everyone succeed. Most people think the library is just books, but it’s not.
My goal is to start applying to library school. I plan to apply in the spring. Some amazing people in the library have offered to help me with the process of applying and figuring out scholarships and financial aid.
First paying job
It was at an animal hospital because I wanted to be a vet. When I mentioned that to the vet, he said I should work there so that I could watch. I did so many things. I would answer phones. I would hold a dog when it was having its nails trimmed. I would clean the lobby when someone had an accident. I cleaned cages. I liked the animals but not all of the owners. Some people are so awful to their pets. I decided that’s not what I wanted to do.
Someone at UNLV who gave you good advice
Everyone was very helpful. Everyone was very good about answering questions. Our former associate dean, Pat Hawthorne, was particularly helpful. She helped me have more confidence. She was always saying, “I want you to feel empowered.” She didn’t want us to be afraid to enforce a policy, for instance. Every conversation I had with her, I would learn something new. I miss her.
Dan Sandecki, who is the safety and loss prevention manager for the libraries, is someone else. He always says, “Lead by example,” which is great advice. For instance, if you follow the COVID policies and protocols, others will see that. If you have any questions, Dan is very logical and very straightforward. He can really ground you and I appreciate that.
Advice for a new employee
Get involved as much as possible. Go to as many events as possible. Volunteer for the AskMe! booths. It’s really fun even when it’s summer. It’s really fun to interact with students and other UNLV employees from different departments.
Outside of work
I am home with my dogs — a white German shepherd named Butter Popcorn, who is white with yellow tips. Then there’s my husky, Luna Kai.
My boyfriend and I like to go to restaurants — when they are open. Pre-COVID we hosted game nights with friends, went to escape rooms. Now we play with friends online and go golfing.
Your choice for a final meal would be
A rare burger and a pint of Guinness and matcha tea with boba. Boba is my obsession. It was the only thing I could taste after I had COVID!
A book, TV show, podcast, or movie to recommend.
For podcasts, there are two I particularly enjoy. “Latinos Who Lunch” is about everything from pop culture and art to issues of race, gender, and class in Latinx communities, while also discussing food. It’s funny but also talks about real issues.
I also like “Armchair Expert” with Dax Shepard. Guests range from celebrities to "experts" and they talk about science, celebrities, food, social issues, and just life in general. It's funny but also informative.