From Mentee, To Mentor

Serving as the facility supervisor at the Charles J. Ping Recreation Center taught one student lifelong skills.

When Erica Toussant, a civil engineering graduate student at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, started working at the Charles J. Ping Recreation Center, she thought of it as merely a job. But instead of just earning a paycheck, she ended up with valuable experience she could use in the world off-campus.

“I had not imagined how much I would care about and take away from my job,” explained Toussant.

She began her tenure at Ping in 2010 as a facility assistant, which taught her best practices for dealing with customers. “You are asked a lot of questions and sometimes have to approach patrons to address policies of the building,” she said. “The job teaches you to develop your interpersonal skills.”

After being promoted to facility supervisor the following year, Toussant’s skill set expanded even further. “As a facility supervisor, I have developed management skills,” she said. “It is not just about ensuring all staff has arrived for their shift and having the knowledge and tools to successfully complete a shift. There is delegation of tasks, especially on a close shift, in order to run and close the building smoothly and get everyone home at a reasonable time.”

Like any job, at times Toussant had to make tough decisions. When she was fairly new to her supervisor role, a student began suffering from an exercise-induced allergic reaction. Wanting to call EMS, the student insisted Toussant not make the call. “So I had a young, hysterical freshman breaking out in hives, refusing EMS and contemplating leaving to walk back to her dorm,” recalled Toussant. “I felt stuck. I had no idea how bad the reaction could get.”

Toussant ended up calling the campus police department and an officer called EMS on Toussant’s behalf. “The student was going to be all right, but looking back, I kept wondering if I should have just said, ‘No, I am going to call for an ambulance.’ My immediate reaction was to do so, and I feel like I dropped the ball on that one. Her allergic reaction could have been a lot worse, and I would feel so guilty if I had been hesitant and something really bad happened to her.”

But Toussant learned a lifelong lesson from the scenario. “That experience taught me how I needed to step up,” she said. “I had people trusting me to make good decisions, and I needed to fully accept that and be confident in my abilities to run the building. If another situation similar to this happened again, I would definitely make a more sound decision. I think this experience and new outlook helped me through other medical emergencies through the years.”

As Fall 2015 is Toussant’s last semester at Ohio University, she’s taking every opportunity to pass on the knowledge she’s learned over the past five years to incoming facility advisors and supervisors. “Having worked at Ping for so long, I feel like I’ve dealt with all kinds of issues and know that place and its shortcuts so well,” she said. “It is such a great place to work … This is my last chance to make an impression on those left here.”

Rachel is an Editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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