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Ready for Her Close-Up

Film department administrative assistant Adriana Burnett recently was named President's Classified Rookie of the Year. Read about what brought her to UNLV and what she has contributed during her first year on campus.
People  |  Sep 27, 2013  |  By Diane Russell
Adriana Burnett turned down a tempting job offer not long after arriving at UNLV, choosing instead to begin honoring a pledge to stay here until she retires. She says she loves having a job that makes her enthusiastic every day about heading off to work. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Photo Services)

Adriana Burnett

Department of Film
Administrative Assistant II
Rebel Since: July 2012

A typical day

It changes by season. Right now I'm doing a lot of artist-in-residence and part-time instructor contracts. At the end of July I handled end-of-year funds. It's good that my tasks are always changing. It keeps me on my toes.

This award

I was so happy to be chosen. I really didn't think I was going to get it. I would have dressed better and refreshed my makeup! I used the $250 toward a campus gym membership.

What brought you to UNLV

I was laid off from the highest paying job of my career. I applied for this job because I had to be able to prove I was looking for work. I really didn't want the job. It was a $20,000 a year pay cut, an extra 28 miles a day added to my commute, I'd have to pay for parking, and I'd have to roll the dice on my future coworkers. I made a promise to (film department administrative assistant and President's Classified Employee of the Year) Pirro Dollani during my second interview that if I got the job, I'd stay until I retire.

About two weeks after starting here, my former employer called and offered me a job comparable to my old one but at a higher salary. I respectfully declined. In my short time at UNLV I had managed to fall in love with everyone here. I wake up each morning enthusiastic about another day at work. Attitude is so important because enough good attitudes equal good morale. We have good morale in this department and on the entire fourth floor of FDH. It's infectious and I plan to infect as many people as I can while I'm here ('til I retire.)

Most helpful advice given to you by someone at UNLV

That would have come from Pirro. He said you need to always keep in mind that you work with artists and they are going to be quick-paced. If they don't stop and smell the roses with you it's because their minds are somewhere else. Don't take it personally.

Advice you would give to a new UNLV employee

To keep it light. This can be a very fun place. It's filled with young people, young energy. Draw that energy from the people around you. It doesn't have to be stiff-collared.

Something people would be surprised to know about you

Maybe that I'm bilingual. I speak Spanish. I'm 100 percent Colombian.

Favorite movies

I'm kind of a comedy gal. I kind of like the goofy ones like Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I'm also a fan of John Hughes movies like Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles. More dramatic movies I like are Pulp Fiction and Fight Club.

What People Nominating Her for the Award Had to Say

Film professor David Schmoeller, wrote: Adriana was like a force of nature who blew into the department with her vibrant personality and energetic enthusiasm, and effected real changes, both cosmetic and substantive, from day one.

Before Adriana, the film office was a drab, nondescript space with nothing on the walls, the flat glare of neon lighting and no personality. Adriana collected movie posters from all of our individual professional work to place on the walls. She brought in lamps from her home to give the space much better lighting. Now when a student or visitor comes into the office, the first thing they see is Adriana's big, bright smile -- and a space that represents the exciting professionalism seen in the creative work of the professors. It now looks like a welcoming "film" office, not just a characterless, institutional space.

Francisco Menendez, department chair, wrote: (Adriana's) job requires her to be the face of film. She does it with charm and with care.

...she can be heard at the university level. During a "listening to staff" encounter she proposed a program that would allow departments to pool their unused supplies to the benefit of other departments. It was implemented and is in use today. Thank you, Adriana.