Editor’s note: Duck of the Week is a section in Around the O Workplace that highlights UO employees and their work. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length only.
How long have you worked at the UO?
I have just passed my 20-year mark. I started in November 2000.
Tell us about your work:
My official title is director of student services, but first and foremost, I am a career and academic advisor for the undergraduate program in the School of Journalism and Communication. I work with undergraduates on their major and career exploration in addition to schedule planning. Through listening to their stories, I get to understand what kind of journey they want to get out of their college experience. I have the opportunity to support them in making that happen, so that’s an element that I definitely love.
I also get to supervise an amazing team of professional advisors and support staff who do the same advising work I do. I provide them with the resources and infrastructure they need in order to be successful because when the team is collectively successful, we are able to provide fantastic service to our students. I see myself on the front lines in working with students while also being behind-the-scenes, making sure my team has everything they need to be successful in the work that they’re doing.
What does your typical day look like?
My day consists of opportunities to meet with students one-on-one or in a group setting. Because our team provides a comprehensive and holistic advising experience, we see students at different stages in their college experience. I could be talking with a first-year student or a graduating senior, so I certainly have some student contact time in my day. Part of my day might be tied up in meetings with colleagues on campus or within the leadership of the School of Journalism and Communication as well.
My work is all done remotely now. There’s been a lot of Zoom time, so I’m trying to be more mindful of the connections that used to be made in various hallways or offices. That’s not as accessible anymore, so this year I’ve tried to be more intentional in trying to make that connection with my team and grow that relationship even though it’s more in a remote setting.
What do you like about working at the UO?
I manage the academic calendar, which provides an underlying consistency to the year. There are occasional variations and things like that, but despite that there’s a cyclical nature to the work that I do. We welcome a new class in the fall. And in the spring we celebrate the graduation of another class. There's constant movement as well as an influx of new energy and ways of looking at things. I love working in an academic department where I get to see that full circle. I feel like it keeps me young.
What keeps you motivated?
The resiliency of our students, specifically in the SOJC, but as a whole in the University of Oregon, is fantastic. The modern college student is juggling a lot of different things. They’re on a journey and want good things for themselves, so I’m inspired by that and want to support them.
I am also motivated by my colleagues and the team that I manage. The faculty and staff that I get to work with in the SOJC are doing amazing things. I really enjoy when Around the O comes out because I get to have a glimpse into other aspects of the university that I didn’t know about earlier. It's really fun to work in a place with such positive energy.
What is something people may not know about you?
I’m kind of corgi-obsessed. I have two different types of corgis: a show dog and an agility dog. Both of these dog sports are new to me, so I’m learning a lot as I meet all sorts of wonderful people just by tapping into these two communities. Before COVID-19, I was spending a lot of time on I-5 going to a dog show with one dog or going to an agility show with the other dog. I’ve always wanted a pet, but to have both of them involved in activities like that is so cool.
Sally Garner is part of the School of Journalism and Communication.
Do you know someone who should be Duck of the Week? Nominate a UO employee.