Tabaitha Rodriguez, Office of Student Affairs and Student Life

I was fortunate to have had to opportunity to sit down and chat with Tabaitha last Thursday afternoon.  We had a great time laughing throughout the interview as she teased me for putting her on the spot and asking her difficult questions. To all the graduating students preparing for commencement, I encourage you take a moment and say hello to Tabaitha.  She’s a fun person to get to know.

What is your position here at Mailman and how long have you worked here?

I am the Administrative Clerk for Student Affairs and Student Life.  I’ve been here for 4 and a half years. It’ll be 5 years in July.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

It depends on the time of the year, so I would say for now, because we are preparing for one of our biggest events which is commencement, a typical day consists of students coming in to do the phonetic spelling of their names, getting emails regarding RSVPs, students requesting letters, clearing graduates to make sure they have met all their requirements, and other basic administrative duties.

What do you enjoy about working here in Mailman?

I enjoy the interactions that I have with the students. The office itself is made up of different teams, including Admissions, Financial Aid, and our Administrative portion to it. But overall, it’s a good team and good people to work with. There are so many different personalities, it’s an interesting mix.  I enjoy working with the different teams and getting to prepare for the events.  It’s always a fun time; we are pretty serious once we are going in to it, but once it’s all said and done, everybody is relaxed and everyone’s themselves. They are very supportive of the staff and everyone works well together. It’s a great environment to be in- I like it.

What brought you here to Mailman?

Well, it’s funny, before I came to Mailman, I was working at the downtown campus for housing. I was temporary there so I was looking for more steady work and looking on the Columbia website, I saw the position at Mailman.   Really by chance, I was looking for steady employment and ended up here. (We’re lucky she came to Mailman and happy to have her here!)

Where did you grow up and how long have you lived in NYC?

I grew up in the Bronx, been here my whole life, still live in the Bronx with my two kids. I’ve been here forever, since the day I was born.

So you like New York and everything?

I like New York but I prefer a warmer place. If I could, I’d pack my bags and go to like Florida or anywhere that is nice and warm, and I don’t have to wear a coat and scarf and shiver as I’m walking down the street, I am a happy camper.

What are some of your hobbies?

I love to read and write. Considering my schedule is always so hectic, that’s usually what I have the most time to do.  I just finished school, so between school, work, and volunteering, I don’t usually have a lot of time. But, reading, writing, and music are some of my favorite things.

 

In regards to reading, what are some of your favorite authors, genres, books to read?

I love criminal mysteries, like Jonathan Kellerman, his wife Faye Kellerman, James Patterson.

Do you also watch crime shows?

One of my favorite channels to watch is MSNBC.  I also love Criminal Minds and the new show that came out with Ashley Judd, Missing. (And then we both go off on a tangent about how awesome we think Ashley Judd is).

What is an interesting fact about you that your co-workers or most people at Mailman don’t know?

I’m pretty much an open book; most people know the things that I am passion about and the things that I like to do. Everybody knows that I’m clumsy and I’m always tripping over stuff here.  (We both laugh…) Hmmm…. For the most part I’m pretty much an open book; most people know most things about me. Although I may have that hard exterior, I’m sensitive and mushy. Although I think that surprises some people. Hmmm..That’s a good question.

You were talking about how you just finished school, can you tell me more about that?

I just finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice a few weeks ago at Monroe College. It’s definitely been a great accomplishment.  The volunteer work I do working as a crisis counselor ties in together in moving forward in what I’d like to do graduate school in maybe Social Work or Mental Health Counseling. I’m excited about that.  (I keep telling her that her background in Criminal Justice makes her cool factor skyrocket!)

Could you talk a little more about your volunteering experience?

I actually volunteer here for NY Presbyterian, the Department of Social Work, in a program called DOVE (Domestic and Other Violent Emergencies). I’ve been doing this since 2009; you have to go through a 40 hour training to be certified as a crisis counselor. I’m on call once two twice a month and basically we work with children ages 12 and up and adults. We work with elder abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault. When someone comes in to the ER, they call us in and we provide crisis counseling and information such as information about orders of protection and things in that nature. Actually, a few of our students are fellow advocates too so I get to interact with a lot of students.  It’s a great program. They are very supportive, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

And now for the final question: how has working here at Mailman shaped you as a person?

Having been here at Mailman has definitely influenced what I see myself doing in the future. The work that everyone does has inspired me to want to do more and be part of the community and help others. The interactions with staff here have motivated me to want to advance more in regards to career and education.  Because the team is so supportive of me going to school, they are really big on motivating people and helping you advance and become a better person. It worked out well.  For whatever reason, my career had to come this way here in to Mailman in order to for me to continue the steps that led me to where I am today.

Interviewed by Rebecca Lo, Vice-President

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