It’s been said that some of the hardest workers one will ever find in a production are the ones working behind the scenes. The saying couldn’t be truer of Shant Varozian, who works as an administrative aide in Pierce College’s office of Academic Affairs.
Varozian first came to Pierce in 2004 as a student. He was taking general education courses and was an undecided major. He didn’t have a job at the time, but he had a friend working in the student store who suggested that he apply to work there as well.
“At the time, they were hiring a bunch of student workers for those first two weeks of spring rush,” Varozian said. “So I got lucky and I was one of them,”
He was hired at the student store shortly after he had turned 19 years old in January of 2005. A little over a year later, in October of 2006, Varozian got promoted to the position of a senior cashier and working at the student store became his full-time job. While working on campus might sound convenient to some, Varozian explained that it had its difficulties.
“Distance-wise it was easy, but I was working so many hours that I was taking semesters off and I wasn’t really taking [my studies] very seriously,” Varozian said. “I decided, because I had a full-time job, to kind of take it easy and just focus on work.”
A few years later, in 2008, Varozian transferred to CSUN to major in management. He started taking accounting, economics, and statistics classes. He took courses that required group work and extensively studied theoretical material on leadership organization.
All throughout his attendance at CSUN, Varozian was still working at Pierce’s student store, when the financial crisis peaked in 2008. He said his academic progress slowed and he latched onto his job even more so, hoping to retain his fiscal stability. Varozian graduated from CSUN six years later in 2014.
Fast forward to last June, Varozian went from working at Pierce College student store for just over ten years, to working directly for the Vice President of Academic Affairs Sheri Berger, as an administrative aide.
“Before starting at this job I never really knew what it [Academic Affairs aide] was about either, and if you ask the average person they won’t know,” Varozian said. “Academic affairs are in charge of scheduling the classes and making sure they have rooms. Not only that, we want to make sure that the courses and the degrees are all in line, so that when students transfer, it shows up on their permanent record.”
Varozian’s job entails very different responsibilities from the retail work he did up until now. As an administrative aide he deals with the curriculum, including degree audits, state submissions, and updating the general catalog. He will soon be learning about how to schedule rooms for various classes.
“It was really cool to transition from one side of the campus, which was from retail, books and students, to this side, where I deal a lot more with faculty, committees, and things like that,” Varozian said. “When I was younger I didn’t mind the retail thing, but I grew too accustomed to it and it became, I don’t want to say boring, but let’s just say I wanted to try something different. I wanted to try something new.”
The work takes place in a little office tucked away in the Village. Since the small group of people in the office all work desk jobs for about eight hours daily, they spend a fair amount of time together and get to know each other pretty well. The office’s receptionist, Diana Montenegro, said that Varozian’s presence is significant.
“You can tell the difference when he’s not in the office because it’ll be so quiet,” Montenegro said. “It’s not even that he talks that much, he’s just such a good spirited person that you miss him when he’s not here.”
Senior secretary for the Dean of Language and Arts, David Valentino, agreed with Montenegro. Valentino recently left his job as a special services assistant at Valley College to come work at Pierce and is now learning to work the academic side of community college, like Varozian.
“He’s very friendly and has been so helpful in getting me set up,” Valentino said. “Because I am new here, he’s been a resource in helping me navigate the many processes these forms have, and each one is different.”
Lucky for Varozian, keeping things meticulously organized and maintaining good time management comes naturally. Though he hasn’t worked here for long, he feels that he and his team have a major role in student life and success.
“If we don’t do our job then it’s pointless for students to come here because they’re not going to get a degree that’s transferable or a degree that’s recognized by the state,” Varozian said.