Lights on the Hill is a monthly photo feature highlighting College of Arts & Sciences people who are putting service at the forefront as they help to keep the University going during the COVID-19 pandemic … and beyond.
Stay tuned for future spotlights on the last week of every month.
Photos by Donn Young
Shayla Evans-Hollingsworth, Human Resource Business Partner, College of Arts & Sciences-Business Operations
What chief challenge or challenges have you had to overcome in doing your job in the middle of a pandemic?
Working from home was the biggest challenge. I love to interact with people in general and consider myself a “people person,” so adjusting to working alone took some time for me to adapt. Adjusting to an environment where there was frequent change, uncertainty and volatility was a big challenge that everyone here at UNC faced. Things were consistently changing, and in my role, I would have to ensure there was no policy or procedural change before completing tasks. Pre-COVID, I would be around my peers or someone in a leadership role that I could walk to their desk to ask a question, but because we were all working from home, you would have to email or use Skype to contact someone. So just learning a new way to work took some time to adjust. Also, having an awesome leadership team to support you, being extremely flexible and ensuring that we had the necessary tools to do our job really made the transition easier for my department.
Learning to find balance between both work and family life was extremely difficult to navigate but with lots of perseverance and support, I was able to pull it off and find some consistency. My family had relocated from Fayetteville to Cary in November 2019, and when we moved, I got rid of a lot of large furniture so I could buy new furniture. I didn’t realize four months later there would be a halt on the furniture industry, let alone the country, so trying to buy furniture was no easy task. My desk was my dining room table for months until I was able to buy desks for everyone in my home. My husband and I worked together at home for a few months and then he had to go back into the office, which left me at home with both a toddler and a pre-teen. Luckily, the daycare that my toddler had attended before the pandemic emailed weekly curriculum packets so that helped tremendously. I also was attending college to pursue my MBA, so going through this pandemic trying to take classes after work online was hard. I would literally sit at my desk on a computer from 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. most nights during this whole ordeal. I graduated in May from Fayetteville State University, so that has been a huge relief.
Why are you passionate about what you do — in other words, what keeps you committed to doing your job in the College?
I love doing what I do. Helping others to be successful gives me great pleasure. Knowing that I have impacted employees and the University to help them reach their goals and objectives is really rewarding to me. I enjoy being partners with the departments in the College and working with faculty, staff and students to ensure that our mission is being met. Being in human resources, your job is never boring, you are constantly learning and there is always a challenge. I consider myself as someone who loves to step up to a challenge in both work and personal life, and I am always eager to learn and grow in my career.
I also joined the Employee Forum during the pandemic and being able to advocate for staff on issues that we all were facing during this unprecedented time allowed me to grow in my own personal area. It made me realize that what I do every day at UNC not only impacts my departments that I service, but it impacts our entire UNC community. I also was appointed to be a member of the Staff Advisory Committee to the Chancellor, which has allowed me to work with other employees to bring to light issues that our staff are facing and dealing with in their own respective departments. Both opportunities are very rewarding, and they have given me the platform to speak up for all staff. Also, I can’t forget that the leadership and my peers in my department have been tremendously supportive in helping me grow in my role, which keeps me pushing toward my career goals and allowing me to continue to grow. Having such great support allows me to be passionate about what I do.