Tag Archives: University of Pittsburgh

Work Study Brilliance

As I wrote yesterday, the English Department is a pretty crazy place.  Because I never know what to expect from one day to the next (including personnel changes- which is typically fairly reliable in most work places), I have come to depend on a group of 6 students.  These 6 are some of the brightest, hardest working, funniest and most responsible students I know.

There used to be a very simplistic job description for what they do: make copies, scan documents, keep the copiers and printers filled with paper, and make deliveries.  But when a recent shift in personel left a gaping hole at the front desk, it was these students who filled in the gap.  Now, when the phone rings, they answer it.  They get the mail, then: sort, distribute and alphabetize.  They give lots of information, sign for deliveries, send emails.

But for me, its really the things you can’t readily see that makes them so brilliant.  They are funny at just the right times.  They remember to set the voicemail most evenings, where as I never remember (in fact I forgot last night).  They have a way of sensing when I just can’t take anymore – and they pick up the slack, answering a question, or the 333rd phone call we’ve received that hour.  They know when I need to walk away how to keep the lid on things until I get back.  I really appreciate that.

In a world that is dominated by “who you know,” I hope these students take advantage of the connections and opportunities they have to make an impact.  I hope they get good experience that allows them to grow in their career path.  I hope they have fun, find encouragement, and feel like they “belong” someplace.   Their collective impact is so great.  These students are just brilliant.  And I’m so very lucky to work with them every day.  Words can’t express how much I depend on them and how much they are appreciated.

The Winds of Change

When I wrote yesterday morning that every day in English is different than the day before, I had no idea the extent of truth in my statement.  Yesterday, we had a fearless leader at the helm of the English Department.  Today, our fearless leader is off to a new challenge, one with more power and influence, and the opportunity to impact positive change on a much greater level.  Not only is he talented academically, a great person, and funny to boot, he has more of an administrative brain than many of his peers.  He has the opportunity to do sensible, positive things to move Arts & Sciences in a healthy direction.

To many right now, I’m sure English feels like a boat, drifting, lost at sea.  And while its hard to tell if people are “panicking,” as one of my instructors put it, the change certainly surprises everyone.  Well, everyone except me.

You see, for the political way this University works, there was no doubt in my mind that this fearless leader would be tagged for great things.

There’s been a buzz (important phone calls, official letters, unlikely meetings), and I knew there was a good chance that something big was about to happen yesterday morning.  Our fearless leader told me as much, but even then I didn’t imagine how big an opportunity would be revealed only hours later.

The important things to understand and keep in perspective, is that in the end, everything usually works out for the best.  So my panicking friends, Eryn Says… don’t.  This, like the last change in leadership, will be ok.  We have a bigger voice now than we’ve had in years.  We have representation and a friendly ear.  And above all, we can trust this leader, which is something to be celebrated as these changing winds blow.