Just two weeks ago, when NC State went into quarantine to address the COVID-19 virus pandemic, many folks wondered how they would transition effectively to working remotely in such a short time.
Considering there are 52 departments within the Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA), the task of providing support as well as loaner laptops for this transition was colossal.
Behind the scenes of this enormous transition is a group of ordinary people on the DASA Tech team who demonstrate their extraordinary dedication, tenacity, and care.
The “invisible” work that happens in DASA Tech, including tech support, troubleshooting for remote access, creating documentation for Zoom Meetings and audio issues, reassuring over-stressed clients, and acquiring and setting up loaner equipment has taken an even more crucial role lately, and the team is managing it all with gusto.
“Our entire team spent the first week of quarantine tirelessly coming into the office to prepare loaner equipment for people in need across DASA on short notice, despite almost the entire rest of campus having already begun working remotely or not at all,” said Kaity Aubuchon, IT service desk manager.
Here are more examples of the kind of extraordinary we’re talking about:
Leah Sauerstrom, service desk analyst, has been pivotal in helping the Counseling Center at Student Health facilitate a virtual operation for the entire team, enabling them to provide crucial services for students in distress. Working from home, with her two young children also there, she has created documentation to help users with the new remote-work challenges they face. Realizing that the amount of loaner equipment being requested exceeded the amount available, Leah and her teammates went all out to ensure new equipment was prepared and delivered.
Jose De Los Santos, Joe Stiles, and Zachary Cook, service desk analysts and all parents of elementary school children, volunteered to come to campus to support users. Thanks to their efforts, the DASA Tech team provides equipment for people working remotely. They also provide a consistent solution for mandatory staff that have chosen not to work remotely during these difficult times.
Trenton Schorey, service desk analyst, has a newborn baby at home, yet he continues to go above and beyond through his remote support. He even works with faculty and staff members who have left North Carolina and do not have the option of coming to campus for support, and has tirelessly utilized new and old resources to provide people what they need to get their work done.
Mike Velez, IT manager, stepped out of his ordinary role and took ownership of some on-site requests that would otherwise have been delayed. He took full ownership of delivering some home wifi hotspots.
IT manager Lisa Miles took ownership of all Jabber phone requests for the Wolfpack Response Line, and Doug Flowers helps manage shipping and receiving in the team storage room (normally a service desk task that he had never done before) and also volunteers at the Feed the Pack food pantry.
Aubuchon added, “While these times have been difficult for us all, they have also given us the unique opportunity to learn and grow and connect with each other on different levels and through different mediums. Staff meetings continue to be engaging and everyone seems to be in great spirits despite the added stressors of having to work and parent at the same time while our kids’ schools are closed until at least May.”
Fred Eaker, interim director, said, “It’s been a huge adjustment for people to adjust to remote working and teaching, and we couldn’t have managed so seamlessly without the efforts of the members of this team.”
Despite the stress, the DASA Tech team shows up for their video conference calls even with babies, kids, cats, and dogs in tow. “At the end of our recent 90-minute Zoom call, Justine Hollingshead, chief of staff and assistant vice chancellor for DASA, played Tina Turner’s song Simply the Best, and the whole division celebrated with a Zoom dance party,” Eaker said.
The DASA Tech team’s work has not gone unnoticed by university leadership, either.
“Our DASA Tech team continually amazes me,” said Barry Olson, associate vice chancellor for the Division of Academic and Student Affairs. “Their ability to shine in the toughest of times is a sign of their strength as a team. They are truly leading with grace and compassion. They make the Pack even stronger!”
Aubuchon added, “That’s the silver lining—as a team, we’re serving people in a time of crisis, and we are more closely bonded now than ever.”