Have you ever wondered how the Pacific University campus dorms and facilities manage to stay clean day in and day out? This is all thanks to the hard-working custodial staff who often go unnoticed. At the heart of this staff is Assistant Floor Leader Rosa Mejia Gaona.
Mejia Gaona has been a part of the Pacific custodial staff since 1994 and arrives on campus at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday and spends her days cleaning and tending to the needs of students and faculty.
“During my typical day I start in the library, cleaning in the morning, which includes cleaning study rooms and taking care of the trash,” Mejia Gaona said. “Then I go to the health center and do some of
the same things like cleaning bathrooms. After that I take care of the garbage around the campus, taking out the garbage and recycling, and then I take all the supplies out to the different buildings on campus.”
Now in her 24th year as member of the Pacific staff, Mejia Gaona came to the university after she learned about the job from a friend.
“I used to work in a senior center, but I didn’t like it because it just wasn’t a good place for me,” Mejia Gaona said. “I heard they were hiring here so I applied and luckily I got the job.”
Over the course of her 24 years at Pacific, Mejia Gaona has constantly been tasked with renewing her residence in order to stay in the United States (U.S.). With a deadline for renewal approaching, Mejia Gaona was convinced to apply for her U.S. citizenship.
“My husband always told me that I could get my citizenship but I said ‘no, that’s too hard for me and it’s too much stuff that you have to remember’ and I really felt like I just didn’t have time to do it,” Mejia Gaona said. “But I decided to do it because I had such a short time to renew my residence.”
Although she knew it would be a challenge, Mejia Gaona has been no stranger to hard work and was willing to go through the application process. Mejia Gaona began studying constantly, preparing for the application and test. This included studying every chance she was able to, while still working her normal 5-1 shift at Pacific.
“In the beginning I would just look at all the books and think about all the stuff that I had to remember to make it through the application and I thought it would be too much for me,” Mejia Gaona said. “I took my time and did all the studying and was writing and writing every single day when I would get home from my job. Every single moment of free time I was writing or listening to questions on repeat, and it was a lot of work, but I did it and I really can’t believe that I did.”
When it came time to take the test, the hard work paid dividends as Mejia Gaona passed the test and was granted U.S. citizenship.
“It’s something that I’m really proud of, because it was hard and difficult at times,” Mejia Gaona said. “It was the last thing I had to do in order to stay here and to be able to work and feel free.”