From part-time work study to full-time career

IU Southeast alumna reflects on 38 year career


Kim Robertson poses at her desk in the Graduate Studies and Research office in the University Center. Photo by Tessa Arnold.

Tessa Arnold, Staff Reporter

In the fall of 1979, Kim Roberson was seeking a part-time student job to pay for tuition and books. She went into the Bursar’s office after hearing they were looking for a student employee, but she had no luck.

The next day, Oct. 9, her birthday, they called her and said “We can give you two weeks to help us get caught up on our filing.” Roberson has been an IU Southeast employee ever since.

Roberson is an alumna and currently works for three different offices as a receptionist and teller. The first year Roberson worked at IU Southeast she was part time, but since December 1980 she has worked in the same office for 38 years full time.

Where it all began

When Roberson started taking classes at IUS in 1979, her parents told her they would pay for her first semester of tuition and books, but would need to find a way to fund the rest of her education, which is what lead to her job search.

“I am not a crier. But I was desperate, it was October and I didn’t have a job, I thought ‘I’m not going to have money for tuition,’” Roberson said, laughing.

In 2002, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in general studies and minors in supervision, economics and psychology — as well as graduating with distinction. It took her 20 years to graduate while taking a few semesters off and only taking a couple classes at a time. However, one thing did remain the same over the years: her job.

Four decades of experience

Roberson said she has done a bit of everything on campus throughout her 38 years at the university.

She has hopped around campus a few times, switching offices and rooms that she has worked in. From 1979 until 1986 she was working for the Bursar’s office. She then moved over to what is now the ACES program until August 2017.

In 2017 she was moved to her current positions in the Graduate and Research/Honors Program and assistant to the Dean of Success and Persistence. She works three days a week in the graduate studies office and two days a week in the honors program office. While juggling the two offices, she said she also finds time to do clerical work for Dr. Donna Dahlgren, the Dean of Success and Persistence.

Diane Willie, the dean for graduate studies and research, works side by side with Roberson three days of the week.

Kim has a wealth of knowledge about IU Southeast and she has been able to use this knowledge to enhance how the offices function and increase effectiveness,” Willie said.

Changes over the years

Since Roberson has been at IUS a few adjustments have been made to the campus. Besides being moved from office to office over the years, Roberson said Knobview Hall and the library building did not exist when she was attending classes.

The University Center building was the library and there were no lodges for housing out-of-state students. It was mainly a commuter school with students from the local community.

Roberson also said that as time goes on, people retire or find other jobs, which is a big change for her working at IUS all of these years.

Duties on campus

In a day of Roberson’s workload she is in charge of three different offices. With graduate studies and honor programs there is a lot of recruitment and administrative support. Since the Graduate Studies office was set up, Roberson and Willie have tried to coordinate marketing for all of the graduate programs. Roberson helps with outreach for each program as well as promotion and marketing.

“Once a week I do a table in front of the bookstore just to get the word out,” said Roberson.

Dr. Dahlgren is in charge of the first year seminar program, keeping track of enrollment and the rebound program, which gives first semester freshmen that struggled their first semester the support they need to be successful. Roberson assists Dahlgreen weekly with anything she might need pertaining to these matters.

“I’ve always had a back-burner dream of doing social work, I did an internship while in school and realized the social work lifestyle was not going to work out for me, especially after I became pregnant,” Roberson said.

During her internship she met women who were single mothers working full-time as a social worker that were still on food stamps. Roberson did not want that same future for her family. Luckily, IU Southeast gave her a better opportunity.

Roberson is on campus five days a week and she plans to remain an employee of IU Southeast until she retires.