by Jennifer Phillips
photography by Rhidian Maehl
Four University of La Verne staff members share a common bond, and it is not their personalities or job descriptions. He is a perfectionist. She loves jazz music. Another declares that her department is the best place to work, and the last staff member fled his native homeland in search of a brighter tomorrow. While they are vastly different, these four individuals share a common bond. They all take pride in their contributions to the University of La Verne.
With thinning long hair, a gray speckled beard and dirt under his fingernails, Jack Ward is the perfectionist. Ward, the maintenance foreman of ULV, might not pay close attention to his receding hairline, but the care and energy that he brings to his job is nothing short of perfection.
Ward has been the maintenance foreman for the past seven years and was a carpenter at the University before his promotion.
“I make sure my crew is prepared for the day,” Ward says.
This preparation requires Ward to unlock all the necessary buildings that will be used by his crew. He passes keys to his crew and reviews work orders. Aside from these daily tasks, Ward is the University locksmith. This responsibility requires Ward to be on call 24 hours a day, all week, every third week out of the month. He enjoys being busy and keeps his crew busy as well. “We’re never out of things to do,” he says.
Ward’s healthy attitude toward work and his desire to instill this attitude in his crew is echoed in his thoughts. “Sometimes I care more than they do,” he says. Pausing momentarily to turn down his walkie-talkie that is a hotline of dispatches, Ward talks about his busy day without missing a beat. “It’s never ending,” he says.
When his day is finally over at 4:30 p.m., Ward trades in his electric powered orange cart for a white Toyota pickup and heads home. He lives with his 15 year-old son Sean in Upland.
Ward’s days are not filled with hopes of receiving plaques or employee of the year for his work, but rather something more personable.
“The smile from a resident after I’ve unlocked her door or when someone says, ‘Is that all you needed to do?’ is enough for me,” Ward says.
While shiny plaques are not Ward’s motivation to stay “busy” at the University, for Joanne Gonzales, director of housekeeping, receiving such honors from her employer Marriott Management does bring a smile to the impeccably dressed and sophisticated woman’s face.
These honors are for the level of cleanliness and service Gonzales and her staff bring to the University.
Before accepting the position in 1995, Gonzales served as director of housekeeping at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, Calif.
She begins her day at 6 a.m. “I come here early, to walk through the campus and see what’s being done,” she says.
Gonzales makes sure her staff members have all of their supplies and keys needed for their daily work. She is also in charge of task assignments, budgeting and ordering of all the supplies.
Gonzales and her crew are busiest on Mondays and Fridays- “Especially when the students party hard,” she says. “This is awfully hard work, and I have a great staff.”
Acting as the liaison between her staff and the University, Gonzales takes into consideration both party’s needs. “Promoting customer satisfaction is a primary goal,” she says. But at the same time, Gonzales demands that respect be given to her staff.
Gonzales also celebrates her staff member’s birthdays each month. “It makes them feel happy,” she says.
During her free time, Gonzales loves to listen to old jazz. “I own every Billie Holiday album,” she says.
He does not have a passion for jazz, and he is not a perfectionist, but the baby face smile on Gustavo Baten, Aramark service worker, makes you wonder what he is really thinking as he prepares a student’s tuna on rye. But the sparkle in his brown eyes is true, and his simple approach to his job makes him more than just a sandwich maker. He is also a husband, father and friend.
Baten decided to leave his homeland in Central America to find financial stability and a more peaceful setting to raise a family. He says he found both.
He and his wife of 16 years, Delia, have three children: Heidy, Bilidy and Merari. Children are a major factor in his life. Because Baten needs to be at work by 6 a.m., he leaves his home in Pasadena at 5:40 a.m. each weekday morning. Once he is clocked in, Baten begins to prepare for the breakfast opening of Davenport Dining Hall.
“When the student’s come in and ask for just a little, I tease them and just put a little on their plate,” he says. Baten’s sense of humor allows him to brighten up other’s day. “When they aren’t smiling, I talk to them, and they talk to me,” he says.
After the breakfast rush, Baten enjoys a quick 10 minute break and then starts on the preparation for the lunch rush. Baten is the sandwich maker, and he likes to be efficient when making the students favorites, turkey and tuna.
“I like to go fast, so there is no long line,” he says.
After the lunch rush, Baten is well on his way to ending his day and onto the soccer field with his son Bilidy.
While Baten’s day is almost over, Zoila Garcia, administrative assistant in the History/Political Science Department, is barely in the middle of hers.
Wearing light make-up, her petite frame neatly dressed, Garcia sits in her cushioned chair and proudly declares, “I work in the best department on campus.”
Monday through Friday, Garcia greets every student from different cultures and age groups who come into the office.
She begins her day with a brisk walk from her home in La Verne to campus. “It usually takes 15 minutes, but if I’m walking fast, it takes 12 minutes,” she says.
At 8 a.m., Garcia is making a fresh pot of coffee for the office that she has worked in since 1973. Garcia, along with her three children, are all University of La Verne graduates.
“I believe you can always learn something new,”she says. “I have the opportunity to meet so many different individuals from all walks of life.”
Dealing with students is a positive aspect and a major part of her life. But even Garcia needs a break from her tiny space. “There are some days when things just aren’t going right, and when this happens I usually go and walk through Founders Hall. This is very invigorating,” she says.
During lunch time, Garcia is walking back home to check up on her mother and grab a bite to eat. Her mother lives with Garcia and Oswaldo, her husband of 36 years.
Once back in her office, Garcia continues to answer the phones and assist the needs of the professors.
At 5 p.m., she is off and walking. Garcia will either enjoy some time with her young grandchildren, write some poetry or work in her garden. The next day, she will do it all over again. It will be a new day but the same energetic Garcia.