Shelley Nakamura, the financial analyst for the College of Engineering, was recently named by her co-workers as employee of the month.
Nakamura felt honored to be recognized. “It is so exciting,” she said. “I was very touched when I received over 40 congratulatory emails from colleagues, including faculty traveling abroad at the time. Several well-wishers, including our ASM and associate dean made time to attend the award ceremony even when they were not scheduled to be on campus that day. It feels wonderful to have such overwhelming support and appreciation at work.”
President F. King Alexander praised Nakamura for her willingness to go the extra mile for the university.
“She has a positive attitude in her work and is very competent in her field,” he said.
Nakamura thinks one reason for her recognition is her positive disposition. “I’ve got a helpful nature and I truly care about the people I work with,” said Nakamura, who joined the university in 2002. “I’ve learned to juggle multiple projects and not to be bogged down by stress. I do my best to produce quality work and still stay upbeat. I try to keep my sense of humor. Life is too short for anything else.”
Nakamura’s duties as a financial analyst for the College of Engineering include dealing with financial, administrative and personnel issues. She works with students, faculty and staff on a daily basis. She often finds herself the point person, working with various departments within and outside of the college to resolve issues.
“There is high volume of paperwork that comes through our office,” she said. “I assist the ASM with fiscal management of state and external funds for the college, ensuring all paperwork going out of our fiscal office adheres to university policy and is submitted on time. I try to do my job right so that my supervisor can devote more time on higher-level management issues.”
An average day sees Nakamura tap into the skills she developed after graduating from UCLA in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in business.
“I worked as a senior accountant and financial analyst in private industry for seven years before joining CSULB,” she said. “I was fortunate to acquire accounting experience in various industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, entertainment, and food industry. I even worked for winemaker Robert Mondavi. That job had a lot of perks, including half price on premium wine, admission to Disneyland and access to his kitchen right next door. I even have a couple of wine bottles Mondavi signed for me.”
Her impressions of CSULB were positive from the start. Nakamura gained valuable work experience while an accountant in the Bursar’s Office, and made some wonderful friends there. In 2003, Nakamura became part of the dean’s staff at the College of Engineering.
“The first people I met here turned out to be excellent managers, very trusting, very competent, and fun to work with,” she said. “I truly enjoy working here. It’s a fun job to be hiring students to build rockets, or purchasing supplies for the Lego-Robotics project, or filling out travel forms to send our students to compete in national car races, or processing special agreements for our faculty to develop technologies on reducing air pollution from diesel engines.
“She has a positive attitude in her work and is very competent in her field.”
Nakamura spends plenty of time with her husband, Hiro, and their daughters Amara (Greek for “eternal beauty”) and Lori. She is a self-described “soccer mom” whose daughters rush from playing fields to Chinese school to campsites. Both daughters are frequent visitors to campus. Their favorite CSULB events include Kaleidoscope, Homecoming, Engineering Open House, and International Cultural Show.
Her co-workers are a big reason she enjoys working at CSULB. “I love the atmosphere here. It is such a beautiful and lively campus.” she said. “It is like one big family at CSULB. It is not all about work. I’m part of a walking group that meets every Tuesday and Friday with co-workers from Information Technology, the Bursar’s Office and Facilities Management. When we’re not walking, we do bowling and table tennis at the Student Union.”
Despite having two busy daughters and helping out at her husband’s acupuncture clinic, Nakamura finds time for herself. She has completed the Orange County Marathon every year since its inception in 2004.
“I have yet to catch up to my husband’s eleven marathon medals,” she said. “Hiro’s motto,‘Be healthy on purpose,’ really motivates the whole family.” She also likes gardening, hiking, yoga, drawing and enjoying a little quiet time with the occasional visit to the bookstore.
Nakamura is glad she chose CSULB. “It’s so exciting to see the students learn and take something valuable with them when they leave,” she said. “I enjoy the opportunity to take classes here, too, and I would like to acquire my MBA or MPA here in the near future. Also, I’m looking forward to working with our new dean in the Fall. It’s wonderful to take part in the positive changes to come.”
Nakamura received several gifts with her recognition including a CSULB sweatshirt, Sunday brunch at the Queen Mary, two VIP passes to The Hop in Lakewood, a family four pack for Boomers, two coupons for the Original Tommy’s World Famous Hamburgers and one free Whopper from Burger King.
“The best gift,” according to Nakamura, “is being presented with the award personally by President Alexander. It’s nice to know that the president values our work.”