By Thomas Maye
What is your educational and professional background?
I graduated from Framingham State in 2009. I was a transfer student. I transferred from another university in New England. I have a degree in business administration. After I graduated, I sort of bounced around doing a couple things for a couple years, and I didn’t really enjoy them. Then I reached out to our associate director at residence life, who was Kim Dexter at the time, and asked her if anything was available. They were going to do a program in the Sheraton in the fall of 2011 where they were going to house 40 students down there that year. I was a community coordinator there for a semester, and then once that ended, the RD at O’Connor was leaving ... so it was really a natural transition to fill that position. I started in that role in the spring of 2012, and I stayed there until the building closed in the fall of 2016 or the spring of 2016, kind of depending on how you look at it. And that’s when I moved down here, and at the same time we kind of reorganized what the RD structure was. I also worked over at Horace Mann and Peirce.
What motivates you to do your job?
We obviously have a lot of first-generation students, but I think we have a lot of students who maybe didn’t think they were going to go on to college, and they realize the opportunity they have. ... And they don’t take it for granted. They’re willing to work hard – whether that be with studying or with related extracurricular activities, or jobs that they have – and make the most of the opportunity they have. And that’s really great to be able to see.
What are some of the greatest trials your career?
The first weekend I was over in O’Connor, all the residents were back from winter break. When I came into work that morning, I was looking at incident reports. We had a floor at that time where half of it was male, half of it was female, and the male side of it – somehow, they’d taken one of the old school, porcelain water fountains, and they cracked it diagonally in half! How did they do that? I don’t know how they did that! But I was thinking, what did I get myself into with this? ... But it’s taking that forward and thinking, well how do you prevent students from causing damage or vandalism to the community? It’s also not just physical damage that they cause, it’s how their words or actions impact the other people that are in the University. How do we make sure we’re building a more inclusive community that accepts everyone for who they are? Even if you and I are different, or we have different backgrounds, how do we learn from each other and that our opinions and our work is still valued?
What are the greatest successes of your career?
I like to think I’m really versatile in what I do. That’s one of the reasons why I like this current position. You can go from looking at data on the computer and trying to figure stuff out, to going to talk to someone about something they have going on or trying to figure out a program we’re going to implement. ... What I’m doing now is West, Horace Mann and Peirce. They are all three very different buildings, and three different sets of residents. I feel like I’m able to fit into positions really well, especially with O’Connor. I had less RAs working there and a little less going on than I do now. I was able to step in and see where help was needed. I feel like that versatility is really something I developed over the last couple of years.
What’s something that students might not know about you?
I feel like a lot of people know that I really like hiking. I ride my bike a lot. I enjoy cooking. I’m a member of a CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] over in Ashland right now, and that’s been a pretty interesting experience. So, we’re given this stuff every week, and you have to figure out what to do with it. I remember the first week I picked it up I got kohlrabi, and I’d never heard of the stuff before. It’s kind of like broccoli stems. ... So, I enjoy being able to take stu] like that and think, well what do we do with it? It may seem like it’s useless, but then, how do we apply that so that it’s beneficial? And I think there’s a self-reliance part as well. You can go to the store and buy bread, but at the same time, bread is flour, salt and water – or at least, good bread is flour, salt and water. And it’s not hard to make yourself, so it shows self-reliance there, and not relying on other people.
What are some of your favorite books and movies?
I really like the Bourne movies, “Gran Torino,” [and] the third “Die Hard” movie is really good – action movies. In terms of books, there’s a book on farming by Kirsten Kimball called “The Dirty Life.” It’s a memoir of [the author] meeting her husband and the farm they open up. The books I really like are nonfiction.
Do you have any advice for Framingham students?
We have a lot of great opportunities, whether that would be through Residence Life or through other departments on campus, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a SILD thing. Get involved, find something that you’re interested in and stick with it. Create opportunities for other students, because the people that came before you created great opportunities that you’re now able to enjoy.