Assistants employ soft skills to aid BJU administration executives

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Assistants employ soft skills to aid BJU administration executives

Executive assistant Shirley Canaday has four decades of experience. Photo: Mark Kamibayashiyama

Assistants to the executives at Bob Jones University have an eventful and time-demanding yet providential career assisting those in leadership positions.

Briley Hughes, assistant to the president of BJU, Dr. Pettit, said that he enjoys the work he does for Dr. Pettit. “I don’t think a lot of people understand how hard he works,” he said. “He works just as hard as the students.” Hughes talked about his busy schedule and what an average day looks like at the office.

“Every day is totally different,” said Hughes, “Random things pop up that have to be taken care of.” Hughes said that there is never a dull day being Pettit’s assistant, as he is constantly keeping busy. “I manage Pettit’s social media and his podcasts,” Hughes said. He also puts together the PowerPoints for chapel and schedules Pettit’s out-oftown trips.

With a busy day comes a lot of stress. When asked how he handles stress, Hughes said, “My dad used to tell me to work my hardest, and somehow it will all get done.” Hughes said that God empowers us to accomplish the hard tasks in our everyday life.

Like most students at BJU, his hardest day of the week is Monday. “It is very rewarding to know that by helping Dr. Pettit, I am helping the University and playing a small part in Bob Jones,” said Hughes. His advice to all BJU students is to ultimately rely on God for everything to work out.

Executive assistant Shirley Canaday has four decades of experience.
Photo: Mark Kamibayashiyama

Shirley Canaday, executive assistant to Dr. Gary Weier, said that she loves working for Dr. Weier. “I love being aligned with a Christian university,” said Canaday. “I try to be a support to Dr. Weier wherever I can.” Canaday said that much of the duties of being an assistant relies on scheduling appointments. Canaday’s day is always eventful and busy as she constantly keeps up with Dr. Weier’s calendars.

“Most days are like puzzles,” Canaday said. “He has a broad range of responsibility, and I try to help him accomplish what he needs.” Canaday mentioned that she has learned time management, organization and problem-solving working as an assistant.

“You have to be flexible, reliable, truthful, hard-working, a people person and a problem solver,” Canaday said. Canaday said executive assistants must be willing to learn from other people and to take constructive criticism and apply it to what they do.

“I enjoy the environment, and I love working with people. Building relationships is very important,” said Canaday. Canaday advises students to remember that plans can always change and to always look ahead. Canaday also advises students handling stress to seek God for help by reading His Word.

“Get rest, surround yourself with supportive friends and have a relationship with God,” Canaday said. “Find people who will challenge you and help you become a better person.”

Trevin Ascher is assistant to Dr. Alan Benson and a graduate student at BJU. Ascher said that he enjoys working for Dr. Benson because of what it has taught him. “Working for Dr. Benson has taught me how to build excellence and character,” Ascher said, “as well as push for the mission of Christ.”

Ascher said that his main projects are scheduling, planning meetings and keeping up with Dr. Benson’s several calendars. Ascher’s assignments vary throughout the week. Ascher said he takes on the small assignments first and then works on his larger assignments that require more time. “Over time you figure out what things are going to be more of a priority,” Ascher said.

Being an executive assistant is a stressful job, and Ascher said he handles stress through his interactions with co-workers and taking time away to get his mind off work. Because Ascher is also a graduate assistant and a part of the BJU chorale, his semester is extremely busy, but he finds his peace in choir.

“Choir is a big stress reliever for me,” Ascher said. As for advice for students, Ascher recommends taking it day by day. “You’re going to have bad days. Remember to stay as organized as possible and have fun in your classes.”

He also recommends that students always ask for help when they need it and understand that college is about learning from others.