Q&A with Susanne Miller
For the first in a series celebrating the work and dedication of the administrative assistants supporting the departments of Santa Fe University of Art and Design, Jackalope Magazine sat down with Susanne Miller, who has acted under the Creative Writing and Literature, Contemporary Music and Liberal Arts Departments for the past five and half years.
Jackalope Magazine: Why did you choose to come to SFUAD and join the staff for these departments?
Susanne Miller: Well it’s interesting because, [at the time] I was looking for work and happened to see on Craigslist an ad [for this position] and I thought, ‘yeah, why not?’ I’d been an administrative assistant in the past but I had not worked at a school before, and I thought I would go check it out. It was [former Creative Writing Chairwoman] Dana Levin and [Liberal Arts Chairwoman] Corine [Frankland] that were at my sit-down interview. I had been involved with writing—writing is a love of mine, and also music has always been a love of mine, so when I found out which departments they were hiring for, I thought ‘absolutely!’ It just seemed so great! And it was Dana, Dana I think pushed for me, which was awesome.
Another thing that was really so funny was that the administrative assistant to [Human Resources] was also at the interview and she brought me back to her office to fill out more paperwork, and while I was filling out the paperwork she had to leave, and she said ‘Just hand it in to the gentleman over there when you’re finished.’ So I went in and I handed them to the gentleman and we got to talking, having this lovely conversation, and I said, ‘Oh, so what do you do here?’ And he said he was the director of HR! So I felt like, even from that interview, it felt like such a great fit. Then coming here, knowing my office was kind of the hub of [Benildus Hall], that it was even the lounge for the students, was lovely. I loved it, knowing that I could be there for everybody. I’ve been so happy.
What are your duties as an administrative assistant to these departments?
My goodness, what isn’t my duty! The days vary so much, and I love that actually. My first duty, really, is to the chairs. So whatever they need: If they need reports on students then I make sure they get that in a timely manner. I also help faculty, especially new faculty, acclimate them into campus, and try to anticipate what their needs are. Then as far as the students, I have coffee of course! Then [I answer] any questions they come in with. I always have pencils and pens for them. Anything they might need, I’m there. The most asked question that people ask me, doesn’t matter if they’re faculty or staff or students, but especially students, the most said thing in my office is they’ll come in and say, ‘this might be a weird question, but…’ So I never know! But I always try. One of the things that helped me with this job, actually, is being a mom. I love to nurture and I love to help, and so I try to as much as possible.
What are your favorite parts or highlights of your job and being you?
My favorite parts, really, are the interactions with everybody. Like I said, especially the students. I love being able to, when students come in and can’t quite figure out something, be there for them. It really is rewarding just to be able to assist as much as possible. I have my routine—I come in in the mornings before everyone is here, go and open up the computer lab and make sure there’s paper in the copy machines, I get the coffee going—then I kind of settle in, read my emails and see what’s up, then wait for people to show up.
In light of the recent news about our school’s situation, what does going forward look like?
Going forward, let me just say, is knowing that we are all here for the students, and please if any students needs anything: I have two shoulders and I love hugging! If anybody needs any hugs, any venting, I am here for them. Moving forward, know that the chairs are working very, very strenuously, knowing that the students are number one, and are going to fight for them and put in the best possible things in place to help and answer any questions they can.
Thank you, Susanne, for everything you do for SFUAD and your everlasting love for its students, even when we don’t put the classroom tables back where they’re supposed to go.
This interview has been edited for style and clarity.