Sarah Gant, the helpdesk manager for Information Systems, comes to EMU by way of historical interpretation and the education field. She enjoys getting to know a cross-section of the EMU community, including the cadre of work-study students who lend their talents to IS, as well as the students, faculty and staff who visit or call with tech issues to be solved. (Photos by Macson McGuigan)

Staff Spotlight #4: Sarah Gant, IS Helpdesk manager

This occasional series features Eastern Mennonite University staff members.

Read Staff Spotlight #1 about Lynn Veurink, #2 about Vanessa Derrow, and #3 about Betty Lee.

Sarah Gant with her nametag, made for her by a colleague. “We give each other little gifts,” she said, of IT department colleagues. “We’re like cats. You never know what you’ll find on your desk when you come in to work.”

Sarah Gant, the helpdesk manager for Information Systems, was born in Iowa City, but soon after moved to Decorah, Iowa. When she was seven her family lived for a year in Indiana, Pennsylvania; they moved to Harrisonburg when she was 14.

Nickname:

My coworkers refer to me as “Susan K. Grant ESQ.” More often than not, my last name gets mistaken for “Grant,” but I’ve also gotten “Gnat” or “Giant.” Someone came in to deliver an item and asked if “Susan Grant” was in the office. I most likely said something cheeky like, “There’s no one here by that name” but then I told him it was me. Someone else once wrote an email to me in this position and addressed me as “Mr. Gant.” Other names and abbreviations were quickly added, but what stuck was “Susan K. Grant ESQ,” “Susan” for short. Jordan Leaman even made me a name plate out of keyboard keys, which sits on my desk.   

Professional highlights:

Since graduating from college and before coming to work at EMU, I had two jobs that were true highlights for me. The first was at the Frontier Culture Museum, where as a costumed interpreter I dressed in period costume and interpreted the history of people who settled in this area centuries ago. I had wanted to work at a living history museum since I was little, and I loved that every day there was different. I got to work with a variety of animals and plants and interacted with people from all over the world. It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

The second highlight was when I worked with a kindergarten class as a teacher’s assistant. Working with children is a joy for me. I love that they are authentically themselves, which allowed me to feel like I could be authentically myself as well. Every day I was with them, I learned something new. Getting up and going to that “job” never felt like work to me. In fact, I felt like I got to go spend time with friends. For awhile after that, I considered pursuing an education degree, but was led in a different direction.   

Path to working at EMU:

In honor of colleague Jordan Leaman’s obsession with Bugles (white cheddar, especially), Sarah Gant decided to frame a bag. “I cleaned it first,” she said. “Then Jennifer Fawley got him into Whales, so I framed that, too.” Leaman keeps the decor by his desk, though Gant thinks he is too kind to throw it out. “I think looking at it makes him hungry,” she said, apologetically. “He is obsessed with snacks.”

Two years ago, I needed a summer job. Jenni Piper asked if I would come to the Helpdesk and help take the phone calls. I had only planned to stay until the elementary school was in session again, but the helpdesk manager position opened up, I applied and got the job. My background is not in computer science, but I’ve had a lot of experience with customer service and people skills, which come in handy when helping people across campus – and when managing the 12 students working in the office throughout the school year. I field the questions that come in for the techs, and am now able to do some troubleshooting on my own for certain things.

When I first started in the position, we all joked here at the office that I could maybe set up a little museum here in the office and “interpret the history of technology through the years” – which I could still do, if anyone is interested in having that available on campus. Just kidding.    

Family:

I admire each member of my family and am grateful for their love and support in my life. My mom Lori and sister Anna work on campus, too, and I find that to be a very special thing! My dad Ed is an amazing cellist and works in the music department at James Madison University, and plays at many different events and concerts in the area. My older sister Becky works at a dental surgeon’s office, and her son Levi is a big part of my life. I was his nanny for his first year and created a special bond with him. He is now six and I can’t believe it! He will be undergoing heart surgery at the end of May. I’m looking forward to when his heart is healthy and he can continue to be the wonderful kid that he is!    

And finally: Which of the following about Sarah is a lie?

  1. I’ve broken my leg, arm and wrist.
  2. My favorite meat is goat.
  3. I would love to learn how to scuba dive.

 

Join the Discussion on “Staff Spotlight #4: Sarah Gant, IS Helpdesk manager

  1. I can say with confidence that Sarah has a loving, rare, and personalized way of connecting to each person she meets (and I’m not just saying that because she’s my sister!) I still have memories as a baby of Sarah crawling in my crib when I was crying and doing everything she could to make me laugh. It worked and it still works to this day. Her care for others and her impeccable ability to nurture the needs of her friends, family, colleagues and customers is a treasured gift to those on the receiving end. She has been an incredible example to me not only in my personal life but in my professional life as well! I had the opportunity to work with her briefly in the IS department and I was amazed, though not surprised, at how she balanced the roll of being a leader whilst exuding kindness to everyone around her (and always making people laugh). Growing up I was often known as “Sarah Gant’s little sister” and I wore that title with pride because there is no greater person to be associated with and call my family and friend.

  2. I love your work history, Sarah! What a great article to know a little more about you and your team at the Helpdesk. Keep up the great work and awesome attitude of customer service and hospitality – You bring smiles!

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