Tamara Marino is motivated by service to others, recommends networking, and believes re-reading a staple from high school English class can teach you a lot.
An education and information officer in UNLV’s office of community engagement, Marino is the first-place President’s Classified Employee of the Year for 2019.
Where you have worked on campus
I started in 2012 with the College of Liberal Arts, splitting my time between the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada and the Women’s Council. I transferred to the office of community engagement when it was created in 2016.
I was ready for a change and wanted something that involved service to others. The importance of service was instilled in me at a very young age and has continued to be a major theme in my life. Years ago, I had worked with several universities as a consultant and I really enjoyed it. I thought UNLV would be a good fit.
Also, I was in the process of finishing my degree. The education benefit offered by UNLV enabled me to earn my bachelor’s degree in public administration from Nevada State in 2016. Without the education benefit, I probably wouldn’t have been able to finish my degree. I am very proud that, as a single mom working full time, I graduated summa cum laude.
We are proud Italians. Most of us live on the West Coast except for my daughters who are in Missouri. I have four children, two girls and two boys. My youngest son just turned 18 and my oldest daughter is in her 30s. The age gap between my girls and boys makes it seem like I’ve parented through two different eras.
I am an education and information officer for the office of community engagement. I connect our on- and off-campus communities in ways that align with UNLV’s community engagement goals. I connect one-on-one with people at community events and share opportunities to engage with UNLV and ways to access our resources. Last year, for example, I had more than 2,000 one-on-one conversations with people at events. I also do a lot of research and information gathering so I can respond to inquiries and help make appropriate connections between the campus and the community. I make presentations to community organizations that provide a general overview of UNLV’s community offerings and ways to partner with us, or I customize my presentation to align with the attendees’ specific interests. I produce a quarterly e-newsletter and use social media to promote community engagement. And then, I’m responsible for the day-to-day business operations of the office, and I administer the annual Office of Community Engagement Awards program.
Advice for fellow employees
Network. Get outside of your unit. It gives you access to a wealth of knowledge that you wouldn’t gain if you stayed in your area all the time and it helps you connect the work you are doing to the university as a whole. Connecting with the bigger mission can be very motivating and it sustains you when things get hectic. It also builds your support system by connecting you with people who can help when you face challenges.
First paying job
Our local 4H ran an after-school daycare program and I worked there as a teacher. It was like our SafeKey program here in Southern Nevada. I quickly learned from that experience that I did not want to be a teacher, which is what I had grown up thinking I wanted to do.
If you won the lottery and could donate to any unit on campus other than your own, where would you donate it?
NEW Leadership Nevada. NEW Leadership was created by Rutgers University and our UNLV program is run by the Women’s Research Institute of Nevada. It is a week-long summer institute that provides civic engagement and leadership training for college women from Nevada. It’s free for the students who attend; everything is covered, including their meals and dorm rooms. The program relies on donations and sponsorships. I appreciate the program’s efforts to impact college women who have the capacity to lead, but who have never had the opportunity to participate in formal leadership training. The program has a measurable impact on the women who attend and each of us benefits from the impact they make on our world as a result of attending.
Something people would be surprised to learn about you
I was born in Adak, Alaska, on a Navy base. I was born premature and only weighed 4 pounds, 4 ounces. In the ’60s, the survival rate for premature babies was not what it is today, so I was not expected to make it.
My favorite place to vacation is Irish Beach, which is about 30 miles south of Mendocino, California. It is in the redwoods and we love it there. There is a 6-mile-long private beach with tide pools on one end and boogie boarding on the other. Our family has so many great memories of our time there over the years.
A bucket-list vacation
I want to take a trip to the Rivarolo province in the Piemonte region of Italy. My grandmother’s family is there, and I would love to explore my heritage. And then I would like to travel to the opposite end of the country to Palermo in Sicily and connect with my grandfather’s family.
The Lord of the Flies. I love the symbolism, the metaphors, and I love what it teaches us about society. The idea that we create our own monsters in our minds, our views on authority, our personal and group “masks,” our hopes, our personal principles, the sociology of human existence, how we approach challenges – all of it; our thoughts become actions and our actions become collective. It’s a great book, but you have to take time to decipher it to get the most out of it.
If you could invite any three people from any time in history to dinner, who would they be?
My grandma because I would love to know her as an adult. I find myself thinking, “I wonder what grandma would think about this or that.” I would love her input on so many things. Rose Kennedy. She experienced so many hardships in her life, but she was resilient and I admire that. I’m always curious about why some people fall down and others keep on going in the face of tragedy. And then Leonardo da Vinci. I have so many questions. I want to know more about his inventions and anatomy sketches. Mostly, though, I just want closure about the Mona Lisa’s smile.
What People Nominating Her Had to Say
Sue DiBella, executive director, office of community engagement:
“She seems to have an innate understanding of the importance of the university to our community and shares this understanding with all of our constituent groups with passion. She is in charge of our office’s community outreach program, through which she staffs a table at a variety of community events to share information about the university. She loves to interact with both adults and children who visit our table, and determine ahead of each event what types of materials are most appropriate for the anticipated crowd. She also brings her enthusiasm for our mission to the promotion of our office in our communication materials, including our e-newsletter, website, brochures and fliers, and social media. She assures that the university is portrayed in the best possible light through these materials."
Referring to a time when DiBella was on medical leave for an extended period: “To say that Tamara stepped up in a time of need would be an understatement. She recognized the necessity of running the office in my absence and began fulfilling my role. To compound the urgency of the situation, our office was in the middle of preparing the university’s application for the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. She assembled a working group to help answer remaining questions, worked many hours overtime, and completed the application on time. Her work on this project has been lauded by multiple people involved and surely enabled us to submit a well-prepared application. She is a stellar employee because of her concern for the university, her excellent job performance, and her outstanding attitude, but she truly exceeded all expectations during this period.”
Rian Satterwhite, director for service learning and leadership
“I sit on the UNLV Community Engagement Council and review applications for the office of community engagement annual awards — both being additional areas in which Tamara stepped up to ensure a smooth continuation of initiatives — and worked very closely with Tamara in the final months of the Carnegie application. Her professionalism, dedication, communication, and detail orientation were impeccable.
“I had enough contact and familiarity with Tamara throughout this time such that I would have expected to hear words of complaint or frustration from anyone given the load she was bearing. Yet that was never the case…she has steadfastly refused recognition herself, instead regularly pointing to other supportive partners across campus and her communication and follow-through never wavered throughout a very difficult process.
"What I found most remarkable about Tamara's effort is that I never got the sense that it was born out of a sense of inevitable duty or job description...I believe what drove her was a belief in the benefit to the institution, to its students, and to the Las Vegas community.
"I have not met another classified employee in my career here — or at three other institutions that I have called home — who deserves this recognition more.”
Additional Nominees for the Award:
- Theresa Boucher, Lee Business School
- Patricia Butler, Lee Business School, third-place recipient
- Anna Drury, Lee Business School
- Cassandra Davidson-Bryant, Academic Success Center
- Rakitha Perera, Office of Information Technology, second-place recipient
- Violeta Aromin, UNLV Foundation
- Mary Yedinak, Honors College
- Cindy Lee, Physics and Astronomy