By Faina Sandler
The turbulence of World War II disrupted Anna Shevchuk Robbins’ early years. Born in Ukraine, she and her family walked to Poland, took a train to Germany and landed in Loison-sous-Lens, France.
Then at 15, she came to America, and things settled down. Boy, did they settle down: Since 1959, she has not only stayed in one area since graduating from Trenton Central High School, she has had just one employer, Rider.
“I fell in love with Rider the moment I opened its door,” she said, recalling the day she applied for a job at the then downtown Trenton campus.
“While waiting to be interviewed, I was in awe with the beauty of the reception area, the mirrored walls, the friendly voice of the receptionist who cheerfully greeted callers, ‘Good morning, Rider College.’”
Next week, still the University’s bursar, she will be honored at the president’s Longtimers Reception for 50 years of service.
Those five decades approach the Rider record for longevity, said Dr. Walter Brower, retired dean of education and the University’s historian. Prof. Harold W. West, who began teaching penmanship around 1905, completed 56 years of service, Brower said, adding that apparently no one else has topped 50.
Robbins began in a clerical job working for Bernice Gee, the college treasurer after whom Gee Hall was named. Robbins held positions as payroll supervisor, assistant bursar, and now bursar.
After a few years of work, Robbins was urged by colleagues to further pursue her education. Taking their advice, Robbins enrolled in evening classes at Rider and received a bachelor’s degree in 1980.
“My working life has evolved thanks to great supervisors past and present who gave me many opportunities and pointed me in new directions,” Robbins said. “I will forever be grateful for the trust and confidence they had in me.”
She has developed lasting friendships with faculty, staff and students who have inspired her to stay at Rider.
“I couldn’t ask for better colleagues, friends and staff,” she said. “I consider working for Rider an honor and a privilege.”
Robbins has seen Rider grow from a business college to a comprehensive university with two campuses. She has witnessed the Lawrenceville campus change and has had many memorable experiences.
“I participated in President Rozanski’s inauguration festivities,” she said. “I had the honor of escorting him to the podium. That was an exciting once-in-a-life-time experience for me.”
Her best memories are of moments she has spent with students who still keep in touch to remind her of the impact she had on them when they were frightened freshmen.
“They give me great satisfaction,” Robbins said. “When I receive e-mails and they often begin as ‘Mrs. Robbins, I hope you remember me’ … ‘I wanted you to know that I am pursuing my masters now … how are you doing?’ Yes, indeed these are my favorite times.”
Even after 50 years, she has no intention of leaving.
“I’m looking forward to the next 50 years and another interview with you.”