Vivian Walston, a finance coordinator in expense reporting for Procure-to-Pay, celebrated 40 years working at GW in 2020.
By Briahnna Brown
When Vivian Walston first applied to work at George Washington University in 1979 as a voucher examiner, she didn’t get the job.
They gave the job to a former employee who returned to the Accounts Payable Department, but they told Ms. Walston that they would keep her application on file. One year later, they called her to come back and gave her the position in March 1980. Today, Ms. Walston works as a finance coordinator in Procure-to-Pay in the Finance Division, where she processes expense reports and student refund payments.
“I love my job because I like helping people,” Ms. Walston said. “When a reimbursement request comes through, I do my best to hurry up and make sure I get this out and processed because it's a need for them.”
Ms. Walston is one of five GW staff members celebrating 40 years of service at the university in 2020, and one of 355 recipients celebrating different career milestones of five or more years. The annual Career Milestones celebration for the 2020 recipients was postponed due to COVID-19, but will be held when it is safe to do so.
The Career Milestones celebration traditionally recognizes and rewards staff who have served the university for a significant period of time while reinforcing the value of their roles, their institutional knowledge and the relationships they have forged with our students, alumni, faculty and each other.
“Our Career Milestones event is not just a service award ceremony, but a true celebration of the positive impact that these staff members have had on our GW community over the years,” said Dana Bradley, chief people officer. “As we faced some of the most difficult challenges brought on by the pandemic, the leadership and experience of these staff members strengthened our university and kept us moving forward in our academic mission.
“While we may have postponed the event until we can safely gather, that does not diminish the importance of expressing our gratitude for their hard work.”
The biggest differences between Ms. Walston’s first year working at GW and her 40th year, she said, are that people no longer smoke in the office, and she does not have to use a typewriter to process checks.
“We used to have so much paperwork during that time because you couldn’t send invoices through email,” Ms. Walston said. “So much has changed, and a lot of it is for the better.”
Over the years, she said, her coworkers have become like a family to her, where she serves as a mentor, confidant and mother figure in that family. Most of her favorite GW memories involve celebrating the holidays together, everything from the big Christmas parties that used to be in the Charles E. Smith Center to a small cultural celebration that she helped organize to celebrate her coworkers’ different traditions.
In taking the time to care for others, Ms. Walston also learned the importance of self-care, which has been especially relevant given the strain brought on by the pandemic.
“You just have to take one day at a time, be strong and do what you have to do,” Ms. Walston said. “I will continue to do the best I can to help people until the time comes that I will retire. I'm not ready to retire just yet; I'm still happy working at GW.”