Pioneer Spotlight: Derrick Jack
Ensuring that students, faculty and staff have a clean, safe environment and helping people are important priorities to Derrick Jack, a custodian for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Williams Fieldhouse.
Hired by the university’s Physical Plant in 2011, Jack’s main responsibilities include the cleaning, maintenance and upkeep of the Department of Health and Human Performance classrooms, offices and hallways; Alumni Lounge; North Lobby; wrestling room; and the Pioneer Women’s Basketball and Pioneer Women’s Volleyball locker rooms. He holds certifications in boom operation and lift operation.
Jack is well-known to the many university students, faculty, staff and community members who use the Pioneer Activity Center annually and appreciate him and all that he does.
What do you enjoy most about your position? What brings you the most satisfaction?
I love everything about my job, including the work and the people. This is a good place to be. My primary goal every day is to make sure that when people come into the PAC, they have a clean, safe environment, and I work hard to do that. I enjoy the challenge of managing my work with helping people whenever I can.
I love welcoming people to the PAC. I say hello to each person who comes in the door and help them start their day off right. It is surprising what a simple hello and good morning can do. The students, faculty and staff are amazing. I like using my social skills and my people skills to interact with others and get to know them. Everyone is so relatable because all of us have common interests. In all the years I have been here, no one has ever come through who I couldn’t relate to on some level.
The thing that brings me the most satisfaction is knowing that I have done a good job. It feels good to know that when the day has come to an end, I have given it my very best.
What do you enjoy most about your co-workers and the students?
I really appreciate my co-workers. Everything we do is a team effort. All of us have different personalities, but at the end of the day, we have a common goal: to make sure that when people come to the PAC, they have a clean, safe environment. I also appreciate my boss, Tony Isabell. He is kind, helpful and supportive.
I also really enjoy interacting with the students. They are always well-mannered and respectful. When they come through the doors, I feel as though they are one of ours. I greet them with a smile, and if they have questions or need help with something, I help them in any way that I can. There are times when students come through the doors and I can tell that they are having a hard or bad day, just by looking at the expression on their faces. I make sure to ask them how they are doing and see if there is anything I can do to help. It is important to show students that we care about them and to lend a listening ear whenever it is needed.
What personal qualities are important for a person to be successful in your position?
Patience. On any given day, things are never the same. After being here for so many years, I have things down to a science. From the moment that I arrive in the morning, I never expect anything, and then go on from there. Other qualities that are important in this position are to be caring, understanding and compassionate.
Of what accomplishment are you most proud?
I feel proud every commencement when the students walk up the PAC stairs on their way to the graduation ceremony, smile at me, and give me a high-five. If I have played even a small part in helping them get there, it is the best thing in the world to me.
This past Thanksgiving, I received a homemade thank you card from the health and human performance students. It felt good to know that they appreciated me and everything that I do.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love fishing and I love watching football. I love watching football because it is enjoyable. I love fishing because it is so relaxing. When I go out on the river and fish, it clears my mind. I might not catch a fish, but just being out there helps me focus on my thoughts. It gives me clarity.
Interview conducted by Laurie A. Hamer, UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education. To nominate someone for the Pioneer Spotlight, email firstname.lastname@example.org.