Matthew Montalto has felt right at home since joining UNLV as a student worker in 2015. While working toward his bachelor’s degree, '19 BA English with a focus on creative writing, he worked in UNLV Student Affairs. He joined the Graduate College last year as an admissions analyst after completing his degree, and he’s hoping to return the kindness he experienced as a student to the students with whom he interacts today.
What do you like most about your job?
The thing I like most about my job is the community at the Grad College because it’s so open, friendly, and team-oriented. I put a lot of pressure on myself because I love working here so much and want to do my best for my boss and for the Grad College. I worked as a paralegal for six years before going back to school. I liked the firm, but it wasn’t a good fit for me. Once I finished my degree, I told myself, “I’ve earned a degree, and I’m going to work someplace where I can make an impact while feeling like a part of a team,” and the Grad College gives me that.
Who did you look up to in your field when you first started?
When I was a student worker (in Student Affairs), I looked up to the professional staff I worked with, and they inspired me to want to work for UNLV. Abigail Wood (now in the Research Division) was my direct supervisor, and she really took me under her wing. At the Graduate College, I’m definitely inspired by my supervisor, Elizabeth Jost (associate director for admissions). She and I just have so many things in common that it’s comfortable. Her leadership style is very direct and helps you get the job done; but she’s not intimidating or unapproachable, and I really value that.
Name a person (or group of persons) on campus you’d like to thank.
The leadership at Student Affairs. Vicky McClain definitely made sure to keep an eye out for me and the other student workers when I worked there. It made going to school and working at the same time very doable. It makes me want to do the same for our student workers.
Is working in admissions what you thought you’d do when you grew up?
No, I thought I would be a musical theater actor. My parents kind of put their foot down. I’m the eldest of my siblings, and they wanted me to have a more practical career path; even though, in my belief, writing and creative jobs are practical. I would love to do community theater maybe after I retire or after life gets a little less hectic. I think one of my dream roles would be Seymour from Little Shop of Horrors.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’ve actually written a novel, and I’m working on doing my final edits and hopefully getting it published. My book is an urban fantasy novel. It centers around a character who is a homeless LGBT youth, and the story that I’m trying to tell is a coming-of-age story about the challenges queer youth face while giving it parallels in a fantasy world. Once I’m done with the second half of the edits, I’ll shop it around to people who might want to publish it. I actually have two short stories I want to publish, too, and I’m working on a third one. I have two longer pieces in my head too.
What’s the last celebrity death that really affected you?
Stan Lee. I guess all my life I looked up to him and his storytelling. The way that I described it to my friends who are also big comic nerds or who are into superheroes is that Stan Lee was kind of like Uncle Stan. He didn’t know us, but he was part of the family. When he passed, it really hit us.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Before we went on a diet, I was doing a lot of baking during the quarantine — pies, cookies, brownies. It was bad, though, because I would make a cheesecake, and two days later, we’d have half a cheesecake left, but I’d still make brownies. And two days later, I’d make something else.
What are you getting to indulge in?
I’ve been watching a lot of TV and movies while I work. It’s just kind of in the background as noise; and it’s all stuff I’ve seen, so it doesn’t distract me. I’ve watched the entire Star Wars saga, all of Indiana Jones, and a bunch of TV shows. When I hear Luke Skywalker talking, it’s like hearing someone in the office talk. It helps with the loneliness of working remotely.
Give us your recommendation for a TV show you are binge-watching, book to read, or musical performer or podcast to listen to.
Definitely a podcast to listen to is “Welcome to Night Vale.” It’s as if you’re listening to a local community radio broadcast, but it’s coming from a little town in the middle of nowhere where strange things happen. For the announcer, strange things are every day, so it’s kind of blasé. You get really wrapped up in the residents’ adventures in this town.
I’ve also watched Eureka, which is a show on the Sci-Fi Channel. It’s a town of super geniuses who build strange inventions. It’s really good because the main character is a sheriff who’s not a genius, so you’re kind of watching everything through his lens; and while the rest of the town is talking using these big scientific words, he’s like “OK, and in English?”
What did you do last weekend?
My husband and I played Pokémon Sword and Shield and Animal Crossing. We’ve had nothing else to do, so that’s basically all we do. Oh, and we also watched Hamilton, which was amazing.
What can’t you get done remotely that you most want to do?
Talk to Liz (Jost) and Lori (Filippo) whenever I have a question and quickly get the answer. Because I’m still relatively new, there are things that come up; and if we were in the office, I could spin around to Lori and ask “How does X, Y, and Z work?” and she’d give me an answer immediately. Now I have to send a message. There’s also the feeling of camaraderie when you’re in the office that I miss.