Day in the life of Rosanna Punko, admissions and academic assistant

Rosanna Punko is an admissions and academic assistant in the School of Dentistry.

29 August 2023

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. How did you end up at the School of Dentistry?

I was raised on a grain farm about an hour north of Edmonton as the oldest of four children. I was on a completely different career path before coming to the School of Dentistry. My career was centred around working with honey bees! My summer job while completing my bachelor of science in biological science from the University of Calgary was working for a local beekeeper. For years, I worked for the Government of Alberta as a honey-bee research assistant and inspector. 

I also completed a master of science in entomology from the University of Manitoba. However, the constant travelling and uncertainty of research funding led me to pursue a different career path. The experiences and skills gained through my previous career and education have been, and continue to be, surprisingly relevant to my role in admissions at the School of Dentistry.

What does a typical day for you look like?

It really depends on the time of year due to the cyclical nature of admissions. I am constantly answering inquiries by phone and email from prospective students. A lot of my time is spent processing applications as we receive around 600 applications to all of our programs. During the winter term, you can find me organizing and hosting the pre-entry examination and Dentistry and Dental Hygiene interviews.

I also assist Blaine AuCoin in Student Affairs with planning meetings with first-year students.

Outside of work, my husband and I endeavour to stay active through squash, biking or walking.

What are the most interesting parts of your job?

I think that a hidden role of admissions is relationship-building. Admissions is the face of the School of Dentistry as we are the first point of contact for prospective students. Their interaction with admissions establishes their view of the University of Alberta and the School of Dentistry. I strive to be a friendly and helpful face for prospective students who are navigating the complex and stressful process of applying to the School of Dentistry.

What are your hobbies and passions?

There are many activities that I enjoy doing outside of work. I love doing things with my hands such as gardening, crafting and cooking. I don’t just like bees, but all insects! I have a small collection of insects that I have caught and pinned for display. I also enjoy time with my family and my husband’s family playing video games.

What’s one thing people don’t know about you?

I have two published peer-reviewed papers on my research on honey-bee diseases and have presented my research at conferences across Canada, including at the Apimondia International Apicultural Congress.