NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Whether they call her “the great communicator,” “Mrs. Kass” or “the best,” Kassondra Perry-Weaver, senior secretary in Stephen F. Austin State University’s DeWitt School of Nursing, is loved by SFA nursing students. That’s partly because she’s also a student.
Perry-Weaver earned her Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences with professional development areas in public safety and in human development and family studies in December. She completed her studies and graduated summa cum laude while working, battling an illness and flying back and forth to California to help her ailing father. She’s now earning a Master of Science in human development and family studies at SFA.
“My favorite part of the job is working with the students,” Perry-Weaver said. “I love being Mrs. Kass and being able to hold all of the students up in prayer.”
Before big tests, students often visit Perry-Weaver to ask for a prayer.
“After the test, they stop by to tell me that my prayer worked, and I tell them, ‘Yes, it works, but the studying was done by you!’ I am always blown away by the cards and letters I get when they graduate, saying how important I was in their journey of nursing school,” she said.
Nursing students, faculty and staff also showed Perry-Weaver how important she is to them by nominating her for SFA’s prestigious President’s Achievement Award. Only eight staff members were selected by SFA President Dr. Steve Westbrook for their outstanding service to the university this year.
The award nominations for Perry-Weaver are filled with examples of how she makes sure nursing students do what they need to do when they need to do it — from registering to applying for scholarships and jobs to finding an apartment. She also encourages prospective students during her tours of the School of Nursing.
“I was sick and lost my dad, but God was still smiling on me through my peers,” Perry-Weaver said. “I am so honored the people around me thought enough of me to nominate me. I feel like I have achieved a goal that I never even knew that I had. I now also feel that the employees, staff employees in particular, are appreciated here at SFA.”
When she joined the School of Nursing staff in December 2016, Perry-Weaver had just retired and moved to Nacogdoches after serving as a 911 dispatcher for 26 years in Oakland, California. She attributes her stellar communication skills mentioned in her award nominations to that job.
“I learned those at the Dispatch Academy, but more than that, I wanted to be heard, so I had to learn to listen, and listening is 90% of communicating,” Perry-Weaver said.
After nine months of retirement in Nacogdoches, she got restless and applied for the senior secretary position at the School of Nursing. She’s also the faculty advisor to the Association of Black Student Nurses. Her new work helped her find purpose again.
“The biggest challenge in my job is convincing African American students that they belong,” she said. “I want them to feel accepted in the program because they are.”
Perry-Weaver also felt another calling that led her to earn her BAAS and take courses in the School of Human Sciences human development and family studies program.
“I needed to do something to help the community more,” she said. “Our benefits changed, and I really wanted to finish my degree. I want to be a death doula, and I needed to understand human development.”
Perry-Weaver is not slowing down after she earns her MS. She plans on opening her own business.
To learn more about the School of Nursing and ask Mrs. Kass to take you on a tour, visit sfasu.edu/nursing.