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Winter 2015

Jon Ameel

Jon Ameel
Senior Electronics Engineer
Department of Physics

Jon Ameel
Written by: Kristin Romelhardt
Photograph by: Mariam Negaran

Wow!  If you want to get excited about physics and electronics, then you only need to spend a short time with Jon Ameel, Senior Electronics Engineer, in his lab in the Randall Lab building in the Department of Physics!  At first, he is reluctant to talk about his accomplishments and the importance of his contributions to faculty research projects but as he talks, his enthusiasm grows and he is displaying pictures and models, giving a lab tour and explaining, using simple and understandable analogies, just a fraction of the various electronic equipment he has created and built for various High Energy Physics projects.  He says his biggest challenge is when he meets with a faculty member regarding the need for a custom research device and his initial reaction is, “No, that is not possible.”  But given time to contemplate the idea and break it down into simpler components, he always comes up with a way to meet the demand.  And that is the biggest reward of his job – going from “no, not possible,” to “wait a minute,” to “here is something,” to “it works!”  In the words of one of his nominators, “The designs that Jon has produced . . . are of the quality equal to or better than any from the major national laboratories who have teams of engineers dedicated to such work.”

Jon admits to being a “tinkerer” going back to childhood.  Yes, his mom had to put up with things being taken apart and put back together just to see how it all works!  He continues to do that to this day, not only in his everyday work at the University but in his personal life as well.  At home, he is currently working on building electronic instruments.  And, of course, he can get ideas by taking existing ones apart!

When asked how a person with a background in Computer Science ended up here in the Department of Physics, he easily explains that, as an undergrad, he responded to a job posting for student lab technicians and has never left.  Of course, as with many areas of the University, the number of staff in the electronics lab has dwindled over the years so that it is, essentially, just Jon and a few student lab techs who he spends time training and mentoring.  Obviously, he is very busy but readily admits he can’t imagine doing anything else.   One nominator wrote, “ He is able to balance his time between . . . projects, and at the same time when any of us go to talk with him we feel we are getting his full attention.”  Jon’s energy and enthusiasm for what he does is definitely contagious.  And because he is reluctant to accept much praise for his contributions to physics research projects and their success, he willingly attributes his excitement to the passion faculty have for their research.

Although Jon’s job of creating electronic gadgets and implements for research equipment is mainly done on campus, it has taken him to research facilities around the world including six months in Antarctica!  While there, he oversaw the launch and recovery of a cosmic ray telescope called C.R.E.S.T.  C.R.E.S.T. conducted energy measurements at the edge of space thanks to a NASA Long Duration Balloon.  When the balloon was fully inflated, it was as large as the Big House! 

When not at work, Jon stays equally active in lots of interesting activities.  When asked how he does it all, he admits that sleep does not get high priority!  His greatest enjoyment at the moment is getting his six year old son interested in investigating how things work, creating and building, especially rockets!  When not tinkering with his son, he is coaching him in ice hockey or helping at the adult Learn To Play Hockey clinics at Yost Ice Arena.  His interests don’t stop there – he is into eating healthy and shares food preparation duties with his spouse.  He makes his own yogurt and, yes, of course, he built his own yogurt “incubator” which automatically keeps the appropriate temperature for the right amount of time.  No need to walk back and forth to the oven all day making yogurt for Jon which leaves more time for him to enjoy music, both listening and playing – he was in a touring rock band in college but only plays for fun now.

How does Jon feel about being in the “Spotlight”?  He is naturally happy with the recognition by the faculty for whom he works hard to assist.  However, he feels that the research is the “star” and he is just happy knowing he contributed to that process all the while “helping science and expanding our knowledge of the way things work in the universe.”  Well done, Jon!!

Sheila Coley

Sheila Coley
Undergraduate Academic Services Coordinator
Department of History

Sheila Coley
Written By: Mariam Negaran
Photograph By: Sheila Coley

When you have been working in the Department of History for as long as Sheila Coley has, an impressive 18 years, you are bound to make some history of your own. Sheila, who started her UM career in 1988 as a receptionist in the Department of Linguistics, joined the Department of History in 1996 as a Graduate Program Assistant and was promoted to her current position of Undergraduate Academic Services Coordinator in 2006. In addition to handling the extensive History curriculum, which includes scheduling courses and planning for over 80 faculty members, Sheila also facilitates many other facets of the undergraduate program.

“Sheila is the rock-solid anchor in the wind and storm of teaching and learning in our department,” Department Chair and Professor Katherine Canning explained “With dozens of courses and sections to schedule, hundreds of students to place, nearly a hundred faculty to guide through the thickets of course planning and room scheduling, waitlisting [students and issuing overrides], Sheila handles it all with unrivaled ease and unshakable serenity.”

Not only is Sheila admired for her institutional knowledge, but she does it all with her characteristic warmth and ease. In the numerous letters of support received from faculty and staff alike, it is clear how integral she is to the department.

“Sheila exemplifies the high level of skill and professionalism found only in the very best members of this university,” a faculty member gushed. “Her command of technology and her confidence-inspiring interpersonal skills have been a central contributing reason why this department is such a fine place to work. She's simply amazing.”

In addition to her other duties, Sheila has used her remarkable technical skills to implement numerous valuable technological improvements in the department. Among several databases that she’s created to help ease her job duties, one of them helps with crafting the time schedule each term by gathering and tracking course scheduling information for each faculty member; it also provides various reports necessary for advising. “I like things to be easier, so I think about ways to improve processes,” Sheila explained during our interview. “It might be more difficult on my end [to set up the processes], but I want it to be easier on the faculty.”

What is more impressive is that Sheila has maintained her excellent quality of work, even while enduring personal loss.

“We were all amazed by her strength a couple of years ago after her husband was in a car accident and after a long series of procedures...he passed away,” Department of History Key Administrator Diane Wyatt explained. “She maintained her characteristic strong customer service, calmness, and cheerfulness all along, through the most difficult period in her life.”

Sheila thanks her strong faith and extensive, supportive family for helping her through that time of loss. That family also includes the staff and faculty in the Department of History, who were and continue to be so supportive, kind, and helpful. She said she is truly grateful for being part of such a wonderful department full of faculty that stand behind their staff through their personal and professional circumstances. “Being here in History has been a blessing” Sheila said.

Sheila, who is a very shy and humble person, was pleasantly surprised about her Staff Spotlight nomination. “I am very appreciative and extremely happy, excited, and grateful to the faculty and staff who wrote letters and thought enough of me to put in the nomination,” Sheila said.

Recently an empty-nester, Sheila likes to unwind by reading, watching old movies on TCM, spending time with her children, grandchildren, and Ty, her new Malti-Poo puppy — oh, and an occasional margarita!

Congratulations, Sheila!

Srividya "Vinnie" Veeraraghavan

Srividya "Vinnie" Veeraraghavan
Administrative Assistant Senior
Department of Economics

Vinnie Veeraraghavan
Written By: Rick Jones
Photograph By: Mariam Negaran

Vinnie’s nomination letter stated  “Vinnie's role in Economics Student Services is hard to define. She always jumps in where she is needed.” With a recent retirement in the department, she stepped in to help with the 800 Ph.D. applicants in addition to her 400 M.A. applicants. She also assists with undergraduate student services in the spring and summer terms. Vinnie processes approximately 5000 letters of recommendation for the PhD. students as they seek jobs.  She is very excited to see students happy and to find the job they really want, and she is gratified when students come to thank her for her assistance.

Running two admissions cycles with two different graduate directors, her nominator stated that “That task is very difficult when you think of the amount of email you receive from each student wanting to know when decisions will be made. Vinnie prides herself on responding to those e-mails.”

Vinnie began working in LSA for the Department of Economics in 2010 as a temporary employee. In April of 2011, she became full-time. Starting as a placement coordinator for the Ph.D. students, Vinnie later moved to Ph.D. admissions work and worked as the Graduate Student Services Coordinator for the M.A. in Applied Economics program. Recently, when a position opened in Economics, she was offered and accepted the position of Administrative Assistant Senior.

Within her department, Vinnie is impressed by the friendliness and helpfulness of her colleagues and finds the graduate students to be polite and friendly. She enjoys building her knowledge and helping her colleagues, which has contributed to her being a generalist and able to cover all aspects of student services in Economics. She has adapted to different styles of work, and strives to anticipate what her colleagues require and tries to provide it before requested.   

She finds the master’s students a wonderful group.  She is their primary contact from application to graduation.  And because 60 percent of the Master’s students are international students - new to this land like her, she organizes social events for the students and has the goal to make students comfortable and to help their transition to Michigan Economics and U-M.

Vinnie’s nominator stated, “She always manages to keep deadlines, works toward goals and shows enthusiasm for her work. Vinnie has been a bright spot in this transition and I commend her on all the hard work she has given to Economics PhD Placement, PhD Admissions, MAE Admissions, MAE Student Services and all around graduate trouble-shooter!”

Vinnie grew up in southern India and moved to the U.S. to be with her husband, who is a faculty member in the College of Engineering. Vinnie has a background in Human Resources and worked at a pharmaceutical company in India.  She has a three-year-old son and spends her time outside of work with him and her husband, and loves to cook and travel.

Congratulations, Vinnie!


Fall 2015

Kathryn Cardenas

Kathryn Cardenas
Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Political Science

Kathryn Cardenas
Written by: Margo Lakin
Photograph by: Kathryn Cardenas

Kathryn Cardenas began her career at the university in 2010 as an academic auditor with the Newnan Advising Center. While she enjoyed the work, she really missed having a more direct connection with students. When the graduate program coordinator position opened with the Department of Political Science, she applied. In less than three years, she’s made quite an impact on the department and the students.

While she doesn’t have a typical day, Kathryn manages several key components of the program: graduate admissions, graduate placement, and graduate student instructors (GSI). From the time a potential student applies until graduation, she is the go‐to person, serving as the source of information for graduate student affairs issues, while trying to make her students’ lives less overwhelming. “If I can make their time here a tiny bit easier, then I’ve done my job,” she says. Her open‐door policy has created a welcoming environment where students (and faculty) know they can stop by at any time for trusted advice and information.  

Nominees commented on her proactive desire to improve processes—not to make her job easier, but to help the students and faculty. For example, she worked this summer to improve the GSI application process, updated multiple student and funding databases, and initiated plans for the department’s annual Emerging Scholars conference, while preparing to go on maternity leave. From creating informative “How Do I ...” emails for grad students to streamlining the conference travel and dissertation funding process, it is clear she puts the students’ needs first. “My role is to help give them [the students] the best experiences possible,” she explains. “I want them to feel welcomed and wanted, and that they are part of our community.”

Her time off campus is spent with her family, including three young children, doing “mom things.”

Aimee Germain

Aimee Germain
Graduate Program Coordinator
Women’s Studies Department

Aimee Germain with Edith
Photo by: Aimee Germain
Article by: Mariam Negaran

In 2010, Aimee Germain won a Staff Spotlight Award and it’s no wonder that she was nominated for another one this year. Hiding behind her shy, humble demeanor is a powerhouse with a stellar work ethic. As the Graduate Program Coordinator, Aimee has contributed to the smooth running of joint doctoral and graduate certificate programs for the Women’s Studies Department for over 6 years, even with frequent supervisor turnover.

This is no easy task, according to one nominator, since it requires Aimee to coordinate and manage the joint administrative structures of the various programs with other departments. Impressively, she is able to juggle the different financial and curricular structures of all the programs and does so with ease and competence.

“Aimee personifies the expression ‘grace under fire,’” Women’s Studies Chief Administrator Patricia Mackmiller wrote. “Regardless of the situation, Aimee remains calm and steadfast­­allowing students to know that she is concerned and engaged, but maintaining a demeanor that demonstrates not only her grasp of a situation, but also her ability to puzzle out a solution that will bring the best result for all involved.”

A proud UM alumna, Aimee received her bachelor's degree from UM and earned her master's degree from the London School of Economics. Prior to working at the Women’s Studies Department, Aimee worked in the Alumni Association as a Diversity Scholarship Coordinator and developed a new scholarship program for underrepresented students. As the Women’s Studies Graduate Program Coordinator, Aimee continues her tradition of advocacy and likes to be involved in all departmental meetings.

“I like to be in the room and think it’s important for staff to be involved and engaged in a lot of department strategy and big picture discussions,” Aimee emphatically said. “None of that is in my job description, but it’s important for me to feel invested in the department, in the university. If there’s any way I can be involved in or speak up, make a point, I take the opportunity to do that.”

Former Graduate Chair Dr. Lilia M Cortina, Professor of Psychology, Women’s Studies, and Management also wrote about Aimee’s dedication to the graduate students, such as attending all the students’ conference presentations, brown bags, or practice job talks.  

“More than being a resource, Aimee makes clear that she cares about the success of the Women's Studies Department and its students,” Dr. Cortina stated. “In fact, Aimee's dedication to graduate students is, in a word, stunning.”

It is clear that Aimee is appreciated by faculty, staff, and students alike. Numerous letters poured in to support Aimee’s Spotlight nomination, detailing her dedication and caring nature, including one from Joshua Hubbard, a Women’s Studies and History Ph.D. candidate.  Hubbard credits Aimee’s dedication and tireless efforts as the reason why he chose to accept UM's offer of admission over other programs. Another student, Shannon Walton, Ph.D. candidate in Women’s Studies and English, explained how Aimee eased her anxiety when filling out a GSI application without any prior teaching experience. Aimee went above and beyond, meeting her for coffee and appeasing her fears.

“As I have gotten to know Aimee better over the last couple of years, I realize that her actions on that day, although exceptional to me, were not exceptional for her,” Walton said. “Aimee brings that level of generosity and kindness to all of her interactions with us students; she is a true ally and friend.”

When Aimee is not busy helping students, she loves being outdoors. She walks about 30 miles a week, regardless of weather, and walks to and from work. On any given day, you can find her walking her very active Airedale Terrier, Edith, along the Huron River and spending, as she calls it, “an irrational amount of time walking.”  

Q & A

What is your favorite part of your job?

Honestly, I think my favorite part of my job has been autonomy. Part of that might be due to supervisor turnover, but my initial manager had given me a lot of autonomy to do my own thing. I enjoy the fact that I’ve been able to manage the graduate programs. Within the Women’s Studies Department, we have a lot of speakers who come in and, as often as I can, if my schedule allows, I try to attend some of the lectures. That is one of the benefits.

How do you feel about recognition for your accomplishments in the form of a Spotlight Award?

I was surprised! I didn’t expect to be recognized. I didn’t feel like I had been doing anything notable, but it’s really nice to be recognized.

If you could be president of the university for a day, what would you do?

That's a serious question, so I'll give you a silly answer: I have never been inside the president’s house, so if I were president for a day, I would actually get to set foot in the house. I would want to search through the house, look through all the closets. Is there a basement? I don’t know if there’s a basement. It’s a beautiful, gigantic, historic home and I would love to see it, especially since it’s been renovated.

Mark Montague

Mark Montague
Applications Programmer/Analyst Senior
LSA Information Technology

Mark Montague
Photo by: Bethany Christoff
Article by: Bethany Christoff

Mark Montague is a research computing consultant with LSA IT. He serves on the Advocacy and Research Support team, providing faculty with the appropriate resources to succeed in their research and teaching. Mark came to this position after an IT reorganization 3 years ago. In this role, Mark has demonstrated an exemplary level of support for LSA researchers. One of Mark’s nominators explains, “What distinguishes Mark’s performance is his encyclopedic knowledge and expertise in the subject areas, as well as his willingness to go beyond answering a question to informing the researcher of what she/he needs to know. This requires curiosity, a willingness to learn and retain information, and a strong work ethic.”

Mark is an alumnus of the University of Michigan Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department. Upon graduation, Mark was faced with the decision of either venturing out to work in Silicon Valley, or pursuing an IT career at the University of Michigan. Mark chose UM, and has now been working here in some capacity since 1991 (with a short break to run his own consulting company and a one year sabbatical). Mark explains his passion for working at UM by stating, “We are pushing the frontiers of human knowledge. We have so many challenges facing us [terrorism, global warming, diseases, poverty, hunger, education, natural disasters]. My philosophy is that the real solutions to these challenges will be discovered by educating as many people as possible. This is much much more important to me than developing social media or making a fortune.”

Mark’s nominators describe the multitude of strengths he brings to LSA IT and the greater UM community. “Mark is a strong mentor. His cube is often the meeting spot for technical discussions, which serve as a great benefit to junior staff and for cross training. Mark takes the initiative. After seeing needs for the creation of new [software] tools, IT training, and programming support [for researchers without deep computing skills], Mark allocates time to address and solve these problems. Regardless of the number of tasks and responsibilities Mark takes on, the quality of his work remains uniformly excellent.”

However, nothing describes the quality of Mark’s work more effectively than the comments and feedback he receives from the researchers he works with. ““Mark is always very prompt and polite,” “I am blown away by the speed and depth of the service,” “I just love this guy,” and “Mark was really fantastic!! He responded quickly and effectively to my requests.” When asked what could have done better, IT received comments such as “Nothing. The research supported provided by LSA IT is exceptional” and “Your support was great. I have absolutely no complaints.”

Q & A

What was a recent challenge that got you really excited about your work?

There are so many, and they are all very, very different. Right now there is a professor in the Department of Astronomy, Jon Miller, doing some research which required us to find an innovative way to run some considerably dated computer software (from the 80s) on the university’s main supercomputer (Flux). This was rather challenging because the old software runs in serial (one thing at a time) and our system is designed to run things in parallel (many things at once). So we researched some options, experimented, documented everything, and spent a couple of months getting all of the components together. Eight different software packages had to be installed and integrated together so that the entire package functioned as a single system. The end result was a document explaining how we were able to run the old software on Flux, so that Professor Miller could use it in his research. We made sure there were no misunderstandings or faulty assumptions. It was very exciting to investigate something very different, something strange and interesting, and figure out how to get it to work in our modern environment.

How do you feel about receiving recognition for your accomplishments in the form of the spotlight award?

I was surprised and a little uncomfortable. Why was I singled out, I work on such a strong team. It is a shame that the team isn’t getting recognition as a whole. The credit should go to the team. It is a great work environment. My team usually talks with each other and we coordinate on a daily basis, both to split up the work as well as to seek advice (bouncing ideas off each other) as to how to respond to each request. Each faculty/researcher with a request for assistance gets the benefit of the whole team's experience, we frequently will coach each other. If someone sees one of my replies to a faculty member, and sees that I left out an important detail, they will bring this to my attention and we will then reply again to provide this additional input.

What do you like to do in your time outside of work?

Hang out with family and friends. Private interest include reading fantasy and science fiction. I also do a lot of web related work, specifically with WordPress. I’m one of the organizers of the WordPress Ann Arbor Meetup group, we meet twice a month. We put on a conference once per year, WordCamp Ann Arbor. We are all private individuals doing this outside their normal day jobs.

What is your favorite aspect about living in Ann Arbor?

The university! There is always something dynamic and going on. I live downtown, and enjoy being close to everything.

If you were president for the day, what would you do with that role/responsibility?

He’s got a tough job! He’s doing great with the diversity initiatives and also bringing attention to the sexual misconduct survey/findings, which is an important issue which should be brought to the front of people’s minds. If I were president for a day, I would encourage the foundation of a number of additional centers. I would work to identify money from the regents, donors, other sources to fund new faculty at these centers which would be positioned to serve as stepping stones for UM. It would be my goal to have these centers elevate us in the national rankings in a number of disciplines by enabling those fields of study to do things they currently cannot do. Example: Right now a challenge that many faculty researchers face is that despite having a PhD in their specialty/field of study, so much of what they are doing (on a daily basis) is devoted to computing. These faculty researchers almost need to have a second degree in computer science to push their discipline ahead. If we had a center staffed with a number of computer science faculty charged with developing new technologies aimed at allowing other disciplines to more easily leverage advanced computing, we could lift our national rankings and do the sorts of research that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. By founding these centers and staffing them appropriately, we would have resources available to quickly address challenges such as the scenario I explained earlier (take code from older software that is serial, and parallelizing it). If we had the tools in place to automate this (reduce programing and customization), this would free up creative thinking of our experts in genomics, economics, political science, and other fields.

Catherine Philbin

Catherine Philbin
Major Advisor
Organizational Studies Program 

Catherine Philbin
Photo By: Bethany Christoff
Article By: Shelley Shock

Catherine (Cathy) Philbin has just celebrated working 30 years at the University.

A typical day for Cathy, the Major Advisor in the Organizational Studies Program, involves student advising appointments, and they happen in spurts.  She also works some curriculum pieces such as manage petitions for students by working with student services.  Catherine manages a database for students studying abroad.  Organizational Studies has an alumni database which Catherine updates and maintains.  Organization Studies has alum that are very connected to the program and work with current students.  Current students can see the alumni database on C-tools.

Catherine likes the energy and enthusiasm of working with college-age students.  There is a nice progression of seeing the students from sophomore year or so to graduation and beyond.  She enjoys giving them advice.

The favorite part of her job is the connection she makes with students, and the broad range of those students.

Other advisors she has known and worked with have been role models for her.

Being in a department where everyone is committed to undergrad education (no graduate program) and everyone is very concerned about the student experience makes her job easier.

A long-term project is alumni connections and keeping up with alumni database.  The goal is to keep the alumni connected to the Program as the alumni grows.

A challenging aspect of her job is that being an advisor can be a linchpin in a students’ experience.  She would love to see advising elevated professionally.   Catherine noted that we need to make good use of our advisors so students are well served and departments stay focused on student services.

Cathy feels that the staff recognition program is important.  She appreciates the nomination and is honored to receive it.

When asked “What brought you to your current position?,” Catherine responded that the connection with students throughout the process is what brought her to the role.  Being able to advise gives her a connection with students.

In the academic year ahead, she looks forward to new faculty teaching courses that students are very excited about.  Students sit in on job candidate interviews and typically ask the candidates what courses they would teach.

Outside of work, Catherine volunteers at her children’s school.  She is on a golf league in the summer and on a bowling league.  She enjoys traveling and went to Paris two years ago.  She also enjoys reading.

See below a few of the wonderful comments Organizational Studies faculty, students, and administrators said about Cathy:

  • She is so dedicated and professional in supporting students at the Organizational Studies Program.

  • Cathy is the epitome of the dedicated employee. She combines rigorous attention to detail with a comprehensive holistic view to continually improve our program; her advising is a wonderful blend of concerned shepherd, teacher, and career counselor. Despite the fact that she is situated in a small program, her contributions can be felt across the College. I can't think of an individual who deserves this award more than she.

  • Her positive energy, dedication to support students, and professionalism inspire me.

  • Cathy Philbin is one of the stars in the Organizational Studies department.  She is always such a positive energy in the office, and optimistic even in the midst of crisis, which she often deals with.

  • Cathy is the advisor who will respond to you on weekends, during holiday breaks, promptly and thoroughly.

  • The expertise she has for her job, the lengths that she goes for her students and the amount of information that she shares is truly amazing.

  • She’s always pleasant to work with, and always pitches in to get done whatever needs to happen in OS, whether it is pulling off graduation or getting the office moved from Dennison to Ruthven.

Jan Burgess and Senia Vasquez

Jan Burgess and Senia Vasquez
Graduate Program Support Team
Department of English Language and Literature

Jan Burgess and Senia Vasquez
Written by: Erica Gehringer

Establishing long-term healthy professional relationships with coworkers is a vital aspect in creating positive and efficient work environments. However, this comes as no surprise to Jan Burgess, Student Administrative Manager, and Senia Vasquez, Student Administrative Assistant, for the Department of English Language & Literature.

Jan and Senia have diligently worked together as a team for over the past ten years, and within this amount of time, they have garnered the ability to instinctively anticipate each other's actions. “We complement each other: What one of us doesn’t think of, the other one does. We’ve worked long enough together where we know how the other works and thinks,” Jan highlights.

Being in-tune with one another is an essential part of their jobs as the two of them currently manage over 160 graduate students, process as many as 1500 graduate applications a year, train new faculty members, and maintain and refine multiple online databases and reports. Most recently, on top of their already full workloads, both Jan and Senia have taken on the Department’s graduate student financial aid processing—a task neither one of them have done before. Jan states, “It’s challenging but very rewarding when you figure it all out.” Senia jokes, “Especially when you get to tell the student, ‘No, you actually don’t owe $1,000!’”

The English Department has gone through many transitions, including faculty and staff changeover, drastic budget cuts, and new student programming and processes. However, change does not stop either Jan or Senia. When asked how they have managed through such transitions, Jan humbly explains, “It’s a lot of picking up extra work and trying to balance and figure out what is the most important thing to do. When you have a new workload, your priorities shift, and you just have to get it done.” Senia further expresses that both “experience and stability” also help her: “You just come in every day and have a feeling of security and sureness in yourself to know what to expect and what’s coming up.” Both beam a sense of unpretentious confidence and expertise.

The students are Jan and Senia’s biggest motivators. Senia explains, “I feel very responsible for the work I do for the students. They are role models to me, an inspiration, because I am dealing with their lives, especially the financial aspect of my job.” In addition, both Jan and Senia’s favorite time of year is admissions and recruitment.  Senia gleefully shares, “It’s so wonderful to see so many new students be so excited and for us to have the opportunity to show off to them.” “It’s a lot of fun to read students’ applications and to have the people who have been accepted come here and get to know the Department,” Jan agrees.

Although Jan and Senia put a lot of time and energy into their jobs, their lives extend beyond work. Senia enjoys to spend most of her time with her fifth-grade son as well as work out and go for walks. Jan makes art quilts that she enters into competitions, is learning to play mandolin in addition to taking voice lessons, indulges in mystery novels, and is learning Japanese.


What moment in the office stands out as the most memorable?

Senia: While at a faculty meeting, one of the faculty members (whose name I can’t remember right now!) complimented me for doing a great job.

Jan: I’ve always been one of the go-to people for students. One day I had to go to Haven Hall, and I didn’t know where it was. I ran into two of my students and asked them how to get there, and they said to me, “Finally! The moment we’ve been waiting for! You don’t know something!”

What can't you live without?

Senia: My son

Jan: Friends

What is your favorite spot on campus?

Senia: Nickels Arcade

Jan: The Law Quad

What inspires you?

Senia: Good, positive attitudes and environments like giving a smile to somebody even if they’re grouchy

Jan: Being given the opportunity to be creative.