Melissa Stephens - SFU Staff Achievement Winner, Work Performance

November 23, 2020

Story by Diane Mar-Nicolle

When Melissa Stephens accepted her first assignment in SFU's temporary pool seven years ago, little did she suspect it would be her one and only placement.

Stephens has held the position of chair's secretary in the Department of Biological Sciences since then, and has become a respected member of the tight-knit department. She was recently awarded an SFU Staff Achievement Award for Work Performance.

"This award came as a lovely surprise," she says. "I feel honoured and very grateful to work where I do. This is a great department, with exceptional, inspiring faculty, students and staff."

She adds,  "I’d especially like to shout out to my colleagues in the office. They are great people to work with, and I learn a lot from them."

Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, Stephens came to Canada in 1996 to join her Canadian husband. She was studying toward a Master of Arts in Children's Literature at UBC when she gave birth to her twin sons. Stephens chose not to finish her degree and to stay home with the twins—satisfying her dream of becoming a children's librarian by reading a plethora of books with them.

She eventually returned to paid work in the non-profit sector before joining SFU in 2013.

One of Stephens' favourite aspects of her job is helping to facilitate the department's seminar program. She loves being a member of this team that brings scientists from around the world to speak to SFU faculty, staff and students.  She also admits to enjoying the job of organizing the department's records.  

"Oddly, I like studying the Model File Classification Plan on the Archives and Records Management website, and figuring out where things fit."

Her colleagues admire her for her collegial attitude and work ethic, her attention to detail and ability to complete tasks without requiring follow-up.  The self-confessed introvert gamely undertakes extra duties, such as organizing several annual social and professional events.

These events are much anticipated and Stephens' nominators credit her for creating a sense of community within the department. 

High praise indeed for a self-proclaimed introvert.