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Setting High Standards and Goals

Doing this has helped Cherisha Gaitor in her life, her career, and in being named one of the Classified Employees of the Year.

People  |  Jul 26, 2017  |  By Diane Russell
Cherisha Gaitor

Cherisha "Risha" Gaitor, the president's second-place Classified Employee of the Year award winner. (R. Marsh Starks/UNLV Creative Services)

Reach out to Cherisha “Risha” Gaitor today to congratulate her on being named the second-place recipient of the 2017 President’s Classified Employee of the Year Award — and on celebrating her 11th UNLV anniversary on July 31.

The job

I am the office manager for Student Union & event services, and an administrative assistant III. I do all the fiscal management and budgets. Right now I’m working on a big report for the end of the fiscal year. Throughout the year I keep track of the fiscal year budget. We are mostly self-funded. I track the money coming in and the expenses going out.

Your role in last fall’s Presidential Debate

The Student Union was heavily used during the debate. I took in money from companies such as CNN and Fox. I got to go behind the scenes to watch Anderson Cooper taping his show live. That is my silver fox. He is so eloquent.

How you came to UNLV

I was working at CSN (then called CCSN, Community College of Southern Nevada) and was ready for the next step in my career path. I applied to UNLV and was offered two positions. I chose Student Union & event services.

Where you grew up

I was born and raised in Southern Nevada. I graduated from Rancho High School in 1998.

First paying job

That would have been a summer job as a custodial assistant. I have been working since I was 14. We went around the school and cleaned up gum. I remember stripping the multipurpose room floor. That’s hard work. You have to respect people in every job. I worked with a custodian that summer who said that a lot of teachers would walk right past her and never speak. I remember that and I try to take the time to talk with people. It goes a long way.

Your education

I received my B.A. in journalism and media studies with an emphasis in broadcasting in 2010 from UNLV, using the grant-in-aid benefit. Now I am working on my master of public administration degree. I hope to finish in May 2018. I will be the first person in my family to earn a master’s degree.

Future plans after obtaining that master’s degree

I just got back from a dream vacation in Pairs and London. I would love to go overseas and find a place to call home.

Advice for new employees

Try your hand at pretty much anything and everything you can. There are a lot of opportunities to be on committees. Do not be afraid to take that leadership role. Make sure you keep developing your mind. Do not become stagnant.

Couldn’t make it through the day without

Saying, “I love you,” to my baby girl (Kamani, 12) every morning and every night. Just to have that gives me a good amount of peace.

A book, movie, or TV show to recommend

Game of Thrones, that’s my show. I take inspiration from the Julia Roberts’ movie, Eat, Pray, Love. Also, I am all about my African culture and like watching documentaries that help me get to know my roots.

A time you have been daring

Growing up where I grew up, a lot of people wouldn’t expect me to be successful. I was surrounded by the hood life, growing up around violence and drugs. I dared to be different. I dared not to be considered a statistic. I challenged my environment and came out on top.

What the People Nominating Her Had to Say

Heather Rappaport, assistant director of sales & business operations for Student Union & event services

As office manager for the Student Union & event services for more than seven years, Cherisha Gaitor keeps the office of 18 staff and more than 60 students running smoothly. For Risha, it’s not just about being organized and efficient, but also having a can-do attitude and team commitment. Whenever someone needs assistance, whether it’s with their office supply order, student payroll, or they are lost in the building, Risha is there to help.

In the spirit of UNLV’s vision, Daring, Different, and Diverse, Risha has demonstrated a commitment to diversity by making a conscious effort to be welcoming, thoughtful, and inclusive to students and colleagues. She is part of the Campus Life Inclusion & Change Team, which is evaluating Campus Life policies with a lens of inclusivity. In an effort to continue developing professionally, she participated in the Association of Hispanic Serving Institutions Conference and the Radical Consciousness Conference.

Tanya Salazar, student worker

Risha goes above and beyond for not only her students but for the entire SUES (Student Union & event services) team. She created a desirable work environment and welcoming attitude. She ensures that she and her co-workers represent UNLV with the highest of standards.

She takes pride in being a part of a university that aspires to be as sustainable as possible. She participates in any way possible to help UNLV be as diverse and inclusive as possible.