Many graduate students know that sound. The elevator ding at 4 a.m. on a weekday morning. An alarm clock-of-sorts welcoming us into a straight 25th hour of sleeplessness. Within minutes we hear the rustling of keys, giving us enough time to wipe any drool from our imprinted chins and slumber from our tired eyes. Then our office door is opened, entering in Elizabeth. A bit (un)surprised, Elizabeth smiles her famous smile, ever so bright, waves her finger with one hand and the other on her hip, allowing her the perfect pose for the motherly words, “Go home right now and get some rest, young lady!”
Elizabeth has always reminded me of my mother, up before the birds to provide for her family. And a picturesque mother (and grandmother) Elizabeth is! After immigrating to the U.S. from Colombia 28 years ago, Elizabeth soon after met and married her husband, who had also immigrated to Maryland from Guatemala. Together they started a family, now three sons, two daughters-in-law, and one scrumptious grandbaby.
Elizabeth’s two oldest sons are University of Maryland alumni. One is a Maryland state trooper and the other is vigorously studying for his LSAT exams. Elizabeth’s youngest son is a current undergraduate in UMD’s criminology program and was once a kicker for UMD’s football team before venturing on missions in south Texas.
When Elizabeth is not on campus, she can be found spending precious quality time with her grandson, Christian, a six month old love muffin. (And she made it quite clear to me that she’s ready for more little love muffins, aka grandchildren!)
It is entirely evident that Elizabeth is a proud matriarch of her family, providing for their stabilities and happiness from her Art/Sociology gig. And it’s a gig that she cherishes, filled with appreciated stories about beloved people within these M.C. Escher-esque walls.
Elizabeth chuckles when she remembers the mornings she’s discovered graduate students at their desks at 4 a.m. She’s a true fan of us students as she appreciates our daily greetings and, deeply so, the gift cards that the Graduate Student Forum gives the custodial staff each December. Such greetings and appreciation-tokens make this job, for Elizabeth, “special.”
Also dear to Elizabeth are the professors and faculty, as she’s gotten to know quite a few over her 13 years on staff at the University. Dr. Linda Moghadam, especially, is quite important to her, as Elizabeth refers to her as “beautiful” and “very, very special.” Also adored by Elizabeth are Gerry Todd, Nicole DeLoatch, and Patty Bernales. Of course Elizabeth values her fellow colleagues, as she’s been able to work with many persons throughout her time on campus.
Between a treasured job and a gorgeously tight family, Elizabeth emphasizes how happy she is. So, next time my Mac displays 8:30 p.m., as I’m about to embark on an all-night-on-campus-work-frenzy, I’ll remember that this is the time that Elizabeth (and my mother) goes to sleep in order to wake up way too early to sustain the people that she loves while working among people that she enjoys. And at 4 a.m., after I hear that elevator ding, I’ll wipe the drool from my chin and the slumber from my eyes, ready to greet Elizabeth and will send a text to my mama saying, “I love you, too.”