Nominations continue to pour in for our regular Five-Star Staffer column, but it was the praise heaped upon departmental assistant Robert Samuels that caught the eye of the Monday Paper team this week.
Postdoctoral student Widaad Zemanay, on behalf of Lab 3.14 in the division of medical biochemistry, submitted such a comprehensive nomination that Monday Paper felt it warranted publishing it in its entirety.
"There are no words to describe what an asset Robbie (that's what we call him) is to the lab so I have decided to take you through a typical working day in the life of Robert Samuels from my perspective.
"By the time I get here at about 07h30, Robbie's already been on campus for half an hour. During this time he has taken the first lot of equipment to be autoclaved, which means by the time people arrive everything is ready and they can start their experiments without a glitch.
"When I walk in I'm greeted by a most welcoming smile that could brighten even the dullest of mornings. He is always cheerful and ready with a kind word of support, no matter what the situation.
"By the time I've put my bag down, Robbie has filled the kettle, ready for all to simply pour their morning cuppa. Thereafter, he fulfils his daily tasks, like preparing glassware not only in our lab but in Professor Lutz Thilo's lab as well.
"However, if ever any of us require anything during the day (be it opening a tightly-closed bottle or fixing a huge piece of machinery) all we have to do is call 'Robbie!' and the job gets done. Once he has completed whatever task one has given him (and I mean anything), Robbie reports back to you to let you know that it has been done. In the event that he is not in the lab, all we do is write a message on the board and the task is tackled without a hitch.
"Robbie is never limited by a job description. Whatever needs to be done gets done whether it's his responsibility or not. He really goes beyond the call of duty.
"In addition, Robbie leads a well balanced life and by 12h30 everyone knows that he is on the faculty squash courts. (At least we know where he is if something urgent is required).
"By the time Robbie leaves at 16h30, I can guarantee that he has made someone's day in one way or another, either with his smile or his helpful personality. And when he goes on leave there is chaos in the lab. Let's just say that his presence is usually sorely missed.
"Everybody in the lab agrees that because of his unbelievably pleasant disposition, hard working attitude and his constant availability to lend a helping hand, Robbie is not only a super staffer but a golden, 'supa dupa' staffer of the decade, let alone the day, week, month or year!"
Having worked at UCT for the past 30 years, Samuels could be regarded as part of the furniture. But a vital part at that.
"I've seen many changes during my time here," he explained. "Whether it is new deans or curriculum changes or new institutes they have all been positive for the faculty."
Asked about his love of squash and his regular lunch time games with a group of friends, including Professor Kit Vaughan and Trevor Finch, Samuels said it is the build-up of a nice sweat in a short period of time that appeals to him.
"It is a quick workout and great stress reliever after which I can get on with my day's work. I also enjoy the social aspect of it."
Married with three children, Samuels has been a minister in his church for the past twelve years. And besides planning his day to the tee to ensure everything gets done, he believes it is his prayers in the morning that get him through the day without any major hiccups.
"We pray as a family before we leave home in the morning and this keeps me positive and able to deal with everything and anything that comes my way. It also enables me to maintain my philosophy, which is to get things done as punctually as possible. The more I get done, the more I learn."
A philosophy which has seen this phenomenal man earn the respect and appreciation of all those fortunate enough to work with him.
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