There's a large, plaid couch and an ever-present basket of candy just inside the door to the Liberal Studies office, and Andrea Olson hopes these two things provide students with a little bit of comfort as they navigate the winding corridors of academia.
Olson is the administrative support assistant for the Liberal Studies office, where she has worked for about four years. She regularly receives accolades from colleagues and students for her pleasant manner, professionalism and competency, and for these and other attributes, Olson is the December STAR of the Month.
"At least once a week I receive an unsolicited compliment about Andrea's warm and kind way of working with people," said her supervisor, Helen Goldsmith, acting associate dean of undergraduate studies.
"She has to juggle many different tasks and respond to multiple requests from students and faculty each day. She handles these gracefully and efficiently, never appearing flustered," Goldsmith said.
Olson views her job as directing student traffic, both within the department and the larger University.
"If there's anything I can do to make things just a little bit easier, that's the easy part. It's the students who are really doing the hard part," she said.
As an undergraduate herself, Olson knows what challenges students face. After several years out of school, she returned recently because her daughter was preparing to graduate from high school.
"I put off getting my degree for a long time, but I couldn't tell her to go to college if I hadn't," she said.
Olson, who has three teenage children, started taking classes at City College and applied to transfer to SFSU for the spring semester. She's working toward a degree in liberal studies and hopes to work as a student adviser.
"I really enjoy seeing all the different advisers work with the students," she said. "They all have a knack for helping, and when the students leave, they feel like they've been tended to, and I like that."
The San Francisco native tries to do her part to provide an environment where students feel tended to, or at least one where they can slow down between classes or before an advising meeting. Music plays softly in her office, and students know they can relax on the couch after a difficult day.
"This is the place they come if they have questions," she said. "And if we don't know the answer, at least we can find somebody who might."
Please join us in congratulating Andrea and thank her for making such a difference.
As the STAR of the Month, Olson will enjoy four free lunches on campus, a free parking pass or equivalent in one month's public transportation costs, and more. She will also be eligible for the STAR of the Year award.
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