This archived article was written by: Chris Barney
One can find her on the second floor of the Student Center, behind a desk sorting through academic records and registration materials. Erin Rowley is staff member of the year, thanks to personable service and a heroic act, she received the 2012-13 award.
Wife of Brett Rowley, a mother of three boys, and a grandmother to one, the sun seems to be shining on this friendly, sympathetic, staff-member of the year.
Rowley was born in Helper, Utah, a short distance up Highway 6, where she grew up, and attended Carbon High School in Price. In her 20s, she worked in a local clothing plant located in Price. When the plant closed its doors, federal funding made it possible for Rowley to return to school. At 28, she took the opportunity, and returned to study administrative assistance and information systems.
With her new degree, Rowley worked at the local health department. In a program called “Caravan,” she cared for the elderly, and bussed clients to and from appointments. At the same time, she taught tobacco-cessation courses at the junior highs in the area. The nature of the classes she taught was service-centered, a common thread found in much of her work experience.
Following Caravan, Rowley came to the College of Eastern Utah to work in the TRIO Student Support Services program, designed to support low-income, first-generation students get on the right track. She learned the nuts and bolts of aiding in student success, attributes that help her in her position today. In Aug. 2011, the federal grant funding her position was closed. As one door closed, another opened, and a short three days later, Rowley found herself again in the offices upstairs. Fall semester began, this time around Rowley was at the front desk. She credits her fellow staff members for her success at the task.
The hardest part of her job, Rowley said, “is not being able to alter the hard things for students (financial aid, graduation requirements, etc.), it’s hard to watch students struggle.” Her sincerity and genuine interest for the students are conveyed as one speaks with her. “I really don’t know why I got the award. I don’t always do things perfectly, but I try to make things personable. There is always some form of common ground with the student, and I want to make that connection with them.”
A large contributing factor to her nomination and acceptance of the staff-of-the-year award was her departure to Houston, Texas, to donate stem cells to her sister with cancer. The transplant took place Oct. 16, 2012. This selfless act has set an example of charity and compassion here at USU Eastern. It’s nice to know that there is a staff here with those qualities, and for that one can be grateful.