Survey CMC-ers on their favorite spots on-campus and chances are the Athenauem will top most lists. Night after night, three times a day, the Athenauem reinvents itself for fine dining and intellectual discourse on our campus. Behind the scenes, a diligent team of cooks, servers, and administrators is busy bringing it all together. Of them, Rosa Nuñez, the sole Building Attendant for the Athenauem, is responsible for keeping the Ath looking its finest for every event.
“It’s beautiful,” Rosa says, savoring a spoonful of yogurt for lunch, when asked about the rejuvenated Athenauem. She does note, however, that the new fixtures take longer and more effort to clean, something that surely does not come to the minds of most Ath admirers. The Ath runs on an exceptionally tight schedule, keeping Rosa constantly on her toes. She has to make the most of the small window of time she often gets between events. Rosa ensures that all three meeting rooms, the lobby, along with the guest rooms for speakers are always readily available for use. After peeking at her schedule, we wonder how she manages this on her own, despite her clearly conscientious time management. Rosa reveals she has a support system in friend Rosie Lupercio, who shares some of the work at times of need.
Before becoming the hidden hero of the Ath, Rosa spent her childhood in the beautiful and rainy Michoacán, a riverine state of Mexico. She moved to United States as an adult, seeking better education and ultimately a brighter future for her children. The family settled in nearby Pomona, making frequent trips to Michoacán during vacations. When it came to finding a job, Rosa prayed for two things: that she wouldn’t have to drive far and she would find work in housekeeping. Luckily, employment at CMC provided both of these things. Rosa began as a temporary housekeeper on the campus over the summer of 2004. In a happy coincidence she became an official employee of the College on September 1, her birthday. “It was like a birthday gift,” she says.
Although it is hard to imagine where she finds the spare time, Rosa is an avid reader and worries about the declining reading culture among younger generations. On her much-deserved down time, she especially enjoys perusing theories that explore meditation strategies. As a mother of a teenager and three young adults, Rosa also keeps an eye out for books that help her understand her kids. “I also read books that are similar to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series,” she tells us, remembering that she recently picked up a copy of The Tree of Life for her son. Rosa isn’t sure whether he has actually read it but she sure isn’t giving up. She takes him to the library frequently and encourages him to check out books. “My girls all read but the boys don’t like to read at all,” she says before asking if things are the same with us. We sheepishly admit to our poor reading habits, and actually mean it when we say we’ll try to do more.
Rosa herself is working on honing her English skills. She first enrolled in ESL (English as a second language) classes (available to CMC employees) when she began working. Today, she is able to see the results and is happy with how much she has picked up. “I can understand most of what is said during meetings now,” she says. Even though her English is already quite good, she plans to continue working on it until she is fully fluent.
Rosa’s dreams for her family and children are slowly being realized. Her eldest daughter has completed a Master’s in Education and now works as a guidance counselor at a high school. Her eldest son is a loan officer for a bank, and Rosa is radiantly proud of both. The rest of the kids are also on similar tracks, though like most parents, Rosa clearly does worry a bit more about the youngest. Meanwhile, having built a strong foundation for her family, Rosa can now transition into the next phase of her life. This includes watching her children build successful careers on their own, welcoming grandchildren into her life, and perhaps one day soon, enjoying more leisure time to read.
So there you have it folks, Rosa Nuñez, the wonderful Building Attendant for the Athenaeum. Interested in getting involved in appreciating our support staff? The Worker’s Support Committee (WSC) meets on Thursdays at 7:30pm in Marks Lounge. Each month WSC holds student sponsored appreciation events for our service staff.