Employee of the Month: Melinda SmithPublished: May 15, 2013
Melinda Smith, a receptionist in the College of Business Administration, was recently named employee of the month by her coworkers and Friendship Walk near the University Student Union was renamed Melinda Smith Lane for the month.
Smith felt caught off guard by her distinction. “I was very surprised even to be nominated,” said the 12-year university employee. “I have to wonder if it’s because I’m the official daily greeter for the College of Business Administration,” she laughed. “I have no idea why I’ve been so honored by my peers. They do know I like to talk, that I want to help people and that I love animals. I was really moved my nomination. It got to my heart.”
CSULB President F. King Alexander praised Smith for her positive attitude and her willingness to help with anything that is asked of her. “Melinda always gives a warm welcome to all those who visit the CBA administration office,” he said. “She is ready to assist even the most demanding students and is able to resolve most of their issues. In the words of her co-workers, ‘She is awesome!’”
Smith works hard to keep her positive attitude. “It is harder to be grumpy and cranky than not be,” she said. “I want my wrinkles to go up, not down. It’s in my makeup to be lighthearted. It is just easier for me to be happy and positive than it is to be negative.”
Smith’s responsibilities include answering phones and dealing with whatever comes along to the CBA offices whether the issues deal with faculty, staff or students. “It takes plenty of people skills to do this job,” she said. “Dealing with people is the biggest part of my job. Fortunately, I love talking to people almost as much as I do listening to them. They come in with questions and it takes off from there. Sometimes those questions turn into stories. I have a lot of pictures of my grandchildren and my animals. That gives our visitors something to talk about and often helps them forget why they were upset. The photos on my desk make smile and put life in perspective every day.”
Students’ challenges include dropping a class, adding a class, or enrolling in a class that is full. “They need the class but feel no one listens,” she explains. “It is up to me to walk the students through the process and tell them what protocols need to be followed.” Smith has a box filled with student possessions from backpacks to skateboards left behind by CBA majors too worried to remember what they came in with.
Smith’s road to CSULB began with a career in the telecommunications industry, first for MCI, then for Qwest. “I loved the industry but the commute to Irvine and then to offices in Anaheim and Costa Mesa began to get old,” she recalled. When a new job didn’t work out, Smith applied to CSULB. “I started in Facilities Management,” she recalled. Smith began as a temporary staff member and key coordinator before moving to the CBA. “Being a receptionist has been a fun job but it’s also tough,” she said. “One thing I like about my job is its unpredictability. I never can tell what I’ll deal with when I walk in the door.”
When she isn’t saving the CBA, Smith enjoys dancing and Zumba. She also owns two rescue dogs, a black Labrador named Lola B and her “grand-dog,” Bear, as well as Missy Le’Miu the cat. She describes herself as “over the top” about animals. “It’s as if there were a neon sign over my house reading ‘House Pets Welcome 24/7,’” she laughed. She also enjoys an occasional visit to Las Vegas.
Smith is glad she joined CSULB. “When parents come by to look at the campus, I make sure I show them our classrooms,” she said. “I try to let them know about the open atmosphere here at CSULB. I may be biased but I think the College of Business Administration is the best place to work on campus. We have a dean who is involved in all the college’s organizations. We have a wonderful staff, great instructors and a community where everybody cares about everybody else.”
Smith received several gifts including a CSULB sweatshirt, a gift certificate for a Tommy’s combo, a $25 gift card for the Cheesecake Factory, a $15 iTunes gift card, and one free Whopper from Burger King.