COM Employees of the Month
Position: Administrative Assistant, Nursing
Years of Service: 11
Helping the next generation of nurses, Estela Leon assists applicants to the COM Associate Degree Nursing Program, answering questions and directing them to COM resources.
Beginning as a student worker, Estela earned an associate degree in office systems technology and business management from COM and in 2003 became a full-time employee. An asset to the COM Nursing Department since 1991, she recently became the Administrative Assistant V for the Associate Degree Nursing Program.
“Since I worked here as a student on campus, I know how the department works,” said Estela. “There’s never a dull moment. Each day is a brand new student coming in to see when deadlines are, when classes are scheduled and how often they are admitted.”
“I like having contact with students, and employees are really sweet to work with.”
In addition to assisting students, Estela supports faculty and staff.
“She just knows everything,” said nursing professor Ja Lowry. “If we have any problems, she helps us figure it out. She’s always so patient, calm and helpful. I couldn’t do without her.”
Estela has worked with others in the nursing department to streamline the admissions process for students.
“Students like coming here because people are willing to help,” said Estela. “We’re willing to go into detail with them. Our campus is friendlier.”
After assisting students throughout their two years in the program, Estela enjoys seeing the culmination of the department’s efforts at the Nursing Pinning Ceremonies, where students receive their nursing pins.
“They each write a very special message to their families that is read to them as they are being pinned,” said Estela. “It’s brought a few tears.”
Position: Lab Assitant, Math and Science
Years of Service: 1.5
Since her first biology class at COM as a 16-year-old dual credit student, Alexandra Zahirniak has been fascinated with science.
“When I took Biology 1406, it was the first time I had hands-on experience in science and it was amazing,” she explained. “That spark of curiosity was ignited and I wanted more.”
She delved into more science classes at COM and became a part-time lab assistant.
She now is a full-time lab assistant for biology classes as a COM graduate with an Associate of Arts and an Associate of Science.
Each day she procures lab supplies, mixes solutions, supports professors and assists students in labs.
“As faculty we rely on her expertise to make sure labs are in order,” said Dr. Chris Allen, COM professor. “She’s extremely dependable and reliable. She wants to be as cost-effective as possible.”
As a former COM student, she relates to those experiencing dissections for the first time.
“I love helping students. Seeing them understand and the light in their eyes is all the reward you could want,” she said.
Besides her responsibilities, she volunteers with the COM Biology Club with professor Sheena Abernathy. The club recently partnered with Audubon Texas to grow native plants in the COM greenhouse to transplant to the Rookery Islands in the Gulf.
“I help Sheena in the greenhouse. It’s really therapeutic.”
She relaxes by spending time with her family and creating crafts. An artist, she recently lent her skills to the COM Biology Club by designing COM Biology Club T-shirts.