34+ Years of Dedicated Service
Even the greatest careers can start inauspiciously. But “inauspicious” may be an understatement when describing Salina Allen-Sharpp’s debut as a computer operator in what was known as the Computing Services department at UMass Boston in May 1988. Salina herself said she didn’t expect she’d stay too long at the university. But 34 amazing years later, that may be the only thing Salina has been wrong about since she got here.
“I didn’t have a vision. I was a young single parent and thought, like most young folks do, to just keep moving,” Salina said about the start of her career at UMass Boston. But despite that supposed lack of vision, she felt consistently motivated to go beyond the status quo. After a few years working various overnight shifts as a computer operator, she decided she wanted to move into computer repair. This led to the next phase of her career working in UMass Boston’s PC repair shop as a certified repair technician, but she still felt driven to pursue something more. Then, in 2003, she made a decision that led her to where she was destined to be at UMass Boston. As she put it, “I wanted to do something on the administrative side” of the renamed Information Technology department, and she was given the opportunity.
She wasn’t given a simple task to start with. Salina was put in charge of the relocation of IT staff from the science building to the Quinn building by then Chief Information Officer Martyne Hallgren. She was ordering furniture, arranging cubicle space, and doing several other things she had no experience with. Even so, the relocation went promptly and smoothly. “I proved that I could do project management without having the official project management training that is necessary today,” Salina said. She also was the lead on other IT Projects, such as the first IT Expo on campus, the relocation of staff from the Quinn building to the Corcoran Jennison building and other campus locations, and the O365 migration affecting students, staff, and faculty at UMass Boston.
In the ensuing years Salina continued to excel in IT administration, and when Ann Agee became IT Chief Information Officer (CIO) in 2011, she quickly determined that Salina was exactly the person she needed as her new Executive Assistant. Salina was promoted into her new position and has remained in it ever since. Even as new CIO’s have come to the IT department, they realized that Salina was irreplaceable as an Executive Assistant and an essential part of the IT management team.
But even with Salina’s remarkable climb up the university ladder, she still felt she had something more to give. So, after meeting Margaret Salas, a student majoring in Computer Science working in a computer lab, she had an inspiring idea. Salina saw that Margaret’s only duty at the lab was monitoring it, so she asked her if she wouldn’t rather do something that gave her more practical IT job experience. She helped Margaret get such a job in Application Services, and the IT Student Employee Program was born.
“It really started with Margaret in 2015, long before the PACE program, which became the IT Student Employee Program, where you try to match a student’s major or field of interest with an employment opportunity in the IT department,” Salina said, putting the program in focus. It’s been an enormous success. Many students have gotten jobs in their field after graduation, largely due to the work experience, knowledge, skills, and ability they gained from the program in addition to their degree. Eventually, Salina started the IT Student Leadership Awards program, given in recognition to top performing IT student employees at an annual IT Student Employee Week ceremony.
As Salina looks back on her 34 years at UMass Boston, just weeks before her retirement, the pride in her voice is obvious. “It’s been quite the journey. I came in as a young single parent with no real plan, and am walking away with a plethora of life, professional and business experiences, amazing friends and connections, and a better understanding of who I am as a person. I just feel blessed.”