Center for Excellence Honoree: Ilena AndrichThere probably aren't a lot of people who want to work in an office that is like a fishbowl - windows all around for everyone to look through all the time. Ilena Andrich is an exception.
Hundreds of faculty, staff and students walk past her glass office attached to the Carl Hansen Student Center every day. "I love the hustle and bustle," she said. "I love people. I'm a people person. I love looking out and seeing everyone."
Andrich, secretary for campus reservation and information, can zone out commotion when focusing on her computer screen; however, only a short time will pass before someone knocks on the window asking for directions to a building or a student inquires about a missing wallet or Q-Card in the lost and found. "I always try to give a positive attitude," she said.
Monique Drucker, assistant dean of student affairs, nominated Andrich for the Excellence in Service to Students Award. Drucker can't think of a better ambassador for Quinnipiac in such a visible location. "Many students have befriended Ilena as they often stop by to see her on their way through the student center," Drucker said. "They are guaranteed a smile and a welcoming hello from her."
Andrich coordinates reservations for almost all rooms on campus that faculty, staff, students and outside groups use for meetings and other events. Student organizations go to her to reserve tables in the student center for selling goods and to reserve one of the university's three passenger vans. Commuter students see her to reserve lockers in the student center and in Tator Hall.
Andrich used a giant book to coordinate room reservations until computers came and last year R25 arrived - sophisticated software to better manage who has reserved which rooms.
"Ilena has a tremendous amount of patience and has worked individually with students, faculty and staff to educate them about this program," Drucker said. "She has worked tirelessly with student groups to manage their endless reservations and conflicts with spaces, such as Buckman Theater and Alumni Hall. Her work is always thorough, and students appreciate her willingness to outreach and make what seems to be an impossible task due to limited space, turn into a fabulous event, show, rehearsal or meeting."
Andrich is a pro at resolving situations when two people or groups claim they reserved a room for the same time. "You don't want to make someone who is upset more upset," Andrich said. "I never blame. If there is a problem, we always work it out."
Andrich earned a bachelor's degree in Spanish and a minor in theater in 2001 from Quinnipiac. She is now working on her master's degree in secondary education at Quinnipiac in hopes of becoming a Spanish teacher. "I love languages," she said. "The romance languages are beautiful."
She also loves acting and spent a year studying at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City before working at Quinnipiac. She began acting in high school and has performed in English and Spanish plays sponsored by the Education Center for the Arts in New Haven. She also performed in "Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat," "Pippin" and "West Side Story" for Act II Theater at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven. She acted in "Godspell" and "House of Bernarda Alba" at Quinnipiac.
"Acting helped me come out of my shell, because I was very shy," Andrich said. She loves to dance and sing and enjoys watching old movies with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Rita Moreno and Ginger Rogers.
Andrich's family - she has two brothers - moved to the Bronx from Puerto Rico when she was 5 and then moved to New Haven where Andrich was raised. She worked at the Fair Haven Community Health Clinic for six years processing health insurance claims and translating for Spanish-speaking patients before coming to Quinnipiac in 1985. She worked in the financial aide office for eight years before switching to her current job. She and her husband Juan have a son, JohnPaul, 13, and a daughter, Adriana, 11.