Staff Appreciation Day 2012

On Wednesday April 25, 2012, SGA and the Office of Student Affairs hosted a special Staff Appreciation Luncheon.  We were not only thrilled to thank all of the Mailman staff who work so hard to enhance our student experience, but we were especially happy to highlight and recognize three exceptional staff members for their dedication to the Mailman community: Robert Mullen, Tabaitha Rodriguez, and Liz Sung.  Chenxi Li and I (Rebecca Lo) were pleased to have the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with three remarkable individuals who help to make our student life experience here so amazing.  I encourage you all to take a moment and learn more about these wonderful people; you’ll love them even more!

Pictured from Left (clockwise): Heidi Bonilla, Rebecca Lo, Amanda Kou, Tabitha Rodriguez, Liz Sung, Christina Brown, and Robert Mullen

On behalf of the Mailman Student Body, SGA would like to say, “Thank you for all you do for the Mailman community!”


Liz Sung, Office of Career Services

I step into Liz’s office at the Career Center and she chuckles embarrassedly that she’s the one being interviewed. It’s almost funny to be doing her job, in a sense. As we settle into the questions, Liz and I start joking and getting silly. Note to self: definitely come back and see Liz for career advice in the fall.

CL: What brought you here to Mailman?

LS: I went to school part-time at Teachers College, Columbia University, where I received my MA and Ed.M. degrees for psychological counseling. I was working full-time in Human Resources at the time. Interning at the New School career services is where I realized how much I enjoyed the type of work so, I decided to pursue this career.

CL: How long have you worked at Mailman?

LS: I have been here since February 2008, so a little over 4 years.

CL: What’s your official position/role?

LS: I am the Assistant Director of Career Advising and Programs. I provide students and alumni with one-on-one career counseling, resume and CV critiquing, and mock interviewing. I also assist students with any other career related needs such as how to negotiate salary, and how to deal with a job offer. Additionally, I collaborate with the career services staff members to create and coordinate workshops and information sessions as well as Career Day events.

CL: What’s the most interesting experience you’ve had while working at Mailman?

There has not been one particular experience that was interesting or event that left a strong impression but when I first came to Columbia University, I used to get asked a lot, ‘What department are you in?’ I guess a lot of people assumed I was a student too, which is kind of funny. (Liz laughs). Overall, the most interesting experience has been meeting different types of students and learning from them on a daily basis. I really love that Mailman has a diverse student body and that there is a unique story to each and every student.

CL: What do you enjoy about working at Mailman? What’s the best part of your job?

LS: I really enjoy interacting and connecting with students from all around the world, not just students who are culturally different, but students with unique personalities from all walks of life.

CL: Where did you grow up and how long have you lived in New York City?

LS: I was born in Pusan, South Korea and came to the US when I was in elementary school. I grew up in South Jersey and currently live in North Jersey. I have gone to school and worked for a while in the city though.

CL: What’s your favorite spot in NYC?

LS: (I think I’ve finally hit on a hard question as Liz utilizes a classic interview tactic and takes a moment to gather her thoughts). I love everything about the city. Each part of the city has its own beauty. I love walking around and enjoying the multiplicity of the neighborhoods. I like going to Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night Swing. I am a foodie so I love going to cafes and restaurants and checking out new places. I am very open to exploring different types of events and cuisines.

CL: What do you recommend for new students to check out?

LS: Definitely the highline because it is such a unique spot and so unexpected in a big city. I think it is great for students to take time to get out and enjoy the city in order to create a balance between life and school. (Amen to that!)

CL: What are some of your hobbies?

LS: I used to play squash. I love ballet so I enjoy going to New York City Ballet. I used to take dance classes. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, checking out different places, musicals and Broadway shows. I am also a huge Yankees fan.

CL: What is an interesting fact about you that most people at Mailman do not know?

LS: Back in the day… I used to be a cheerleader in high school.

Interviewed by Chenxi Li, Communications Chair

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

Robert Mullen, Department of Public Safety

I find Rob at the front desk of the Rosenfeld building smiling and nodding at the faculty and students who enter and exit. He’s busy checking IDs when I catch him and I sneak my questions in during moments of lull in the flow of people.


CL: What brought you here to Mailman?

Rob: Before this, I was floating around on campus doing Public Safety but I finally got a normal schedule to be in Rosenfeld from 8-4pm. I have always worked in public safety.

CL: How long have you worked at Mailman?                                      

Rob: I’ve been here for about 3 years.

CL: What’s your position/role?

Rob: My job is public safety so I try to keep the building moving in an orderly fashion and prevent havoc.

CL: What’s the most interesting experience you’ve had while working at Mailman?

Rob: The most interesting experience has been meeting people from all over the world instead of people just from the five boroughs of NYC. It’s expanded my horizons and I’ve learned a lot from different cultures. (And as I pressed for stories of drunken students running up and down the street, Rob laughs and shakes his head.) We’ve never had anything crazy like that but it’s the little things that make my day interesting and make me laugh, for example pushing or pulling the door the wrong way. I also really enjoy how much the faculty members in this building have strong relationships with the students—that it’s not all business. I was working during a holiday party and faculty were dancing and mingling with students and having fun and showing how much they cared about the students outside of the classroom.

CL: What do you enjoy about working at Mailman? What’s the best part of your job?

Rob: I really like Rosenfeld, it’s a very homey building. It feels very family-oriented n the sense that faculty members and students work together. For example, we had admitted students day recently and everything went very smoothly due to the collaboration. I really enjoy seeing that.

At this point, we pause the interview and I watch as Rob simultaneously chases down a visitor to sign him in and answers a student’s question about parking outside the building. The smile never leaves his face.

CL: Where did you grow up and how long have you lived in New York City?

Rob: I grew up in Brooklyn and have lived in NYC all my life. When I first came here I felt a little alienated but then I learned how to treat certain people and got used to how things go.

CL: What’s your favorite spot in the city?

Rob: Definitely the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. I love anything close to the water.

CL: What are some of your hobbies?

Rob: I love sports. I play basketball and am a huge Knicks fan. (Rob wouldn’t tell me who his favorite Knicks player because he say’s he’s an equal fan of all of them.) I’ve been watching Kevin Love of the Timberwolves for some time though. I also am really into electronics. I’m going to school to become an electrician and it’s always been a passion of mine. It’s very cool to be able to control an element like electricity. (As I ask him if he’ll leave us once he finishes school, Rob chuckles at my forlorn expression.) The plan is to explore as many avenues within security as possible to better myself and hopefully open my own security company someday. I guess all good things must come to an end right?

CL: What is an interesting fact about you that most people at Mailman do not know?

Rob: I’m a very down to earth guy and I can play video games with the best of them. (And again after I jokingly pry for what games he’s best at, Rob laughs) I’m good at boxing and fighting games.

I thank Rob for his time and walk away thinking that all this time, I’d been saying hi to Rob every day without barely bothering to have a good long conversation. It’s amazing to have people like Rob on campus to help keep us safe and keep the order, so I encourage you to stop by and say hi. You never know where the conversation could lead you. For me, this conversation is leading me straight to a day of exploring the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. 

-Interviewed by Chenxi Li, Communications Chair

Tonight’s the Night!

Get excited, get excited, GET EXCITED!!! Only a few hours left until SGA’s end of the year event and it will definitely be one to remember. We’ve sold almost 40 tickets in 40 minutes today (guess procrastination’s a more common trait than I thought 😉 ). We’ve got candy, appetizers, drinks, raffles, and a dj and fresh music, and so much more. Limited tickets will be available at the door so come early if you didn’t get yours during the week!

Party tonight, study tomorrow. See you soon!