The Charger Blog

Library Technical Assistant Reminds Everyone 'We are Responsive, We are Social, and We are Creative'

Meet Robert Velez ’21 MPA, a part of the dedicated staff of the University’s Marvin K. Peterson Library, who loves sharing the random knowledge he’s acquired and who recently discovered a new way to enhance his artwork.

October 21, 2020

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Robert Velez at a holiday party with colleagues at the University.
Robert Velez (center) at a holiday party with colleagues at the University.

The lifeblood of the University of New Haven are the faculty and staff members who dedicate their lives to helping our students reach their goals. Periodically, we’ll introduce you to a member of the staff so you can learn more about him or her – beyond their day to day work.

Next up is Robert Velez ’21 MPA, a library technical assistant, who is hard at work on his Master of Public Administration.

Renee Chmiel: What is your favorite TV show?

Robert Velez: I do not watch much TV now, but when I used to, I watched King of the Hill. I always thought shows about the working class in America were interesting in the cartoon genre. They tend to portray seemingly normal situations as adventurous and then twist the narrative into something comedic or interesting. King of the Hill was good at this because it centered on a family that had nothing spectacular going on. The characters would make a big deal out of these small problems, and that felt real. I see reality TV sometimes trying to mimic this by staging real people in their everyday problems and trying to build a narrative off it.

Image of Robert Velez taking photographs in Massachusetts.
Robert Velez taking photographs in Massachusetts.

RC: What is your favorite thing to do on a Saturday?

RV: My favorite thing to do on a Saturday, mostly before the pandemic, is to visit family or friends. In the past, we have watched movies, had lunch, and focused on relaxing. There are so many stressful issues throughout the week, and it is nice to put those things away for a day or an evening, and just talk about something else. Those issues can wait for another day.

I've also taken trips alone to see friends. We would kayak or just drive to get ice cream. Being able to take a train to see someone made those Saturdays special.

RC: What do you enjoy the most about working at the University?

RV: I enjoy working with the students and with my coworkers. Our patrons are our number one priority, without question. Working with them has given me so many opportunities to work with people and connect them to the information and resources they need. Working with my colleagues has strengthened my resolve to find even better ways to do my work.

I also had started working on a Master of Public Administration at the University, and I am very close to finishing. I never would have thought to start this program without encouragement from Sarah Gardocki, director of operations in the School of Health Sciences. We worked together in the past, and she has been a great friend in the time I’ve known her.

Image of Robert Velez and friends returning from a trip to a RenFaire in New York.
Robert Velez and friends returning from a trip to a RenFaire in New York.

RC: What did you do over the summer?

RV: Over the summer, I tried to find a hobby that was inexpensive but creative. I purchased some stock cards, some black ink, and gold leaf paper. I began watching videos on how to use gold leaf in drawings. I thought this would be an excellent way to make my art pop. I spent a lot of this summer trying to finish my classes, but I also made time to work on these little projects. I plan to one day start using gold leaf on my photos when I begin taking photographs again.

RC: What is something that people are often surprised to learn about you?

RV: People are often surprised about the random knowledge I have. For instance, the longest written word in a novel comes from Finnegan’s Wake, a James Joyce novel. The word is Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnukand, and is symbolic of a thunder clap.

RC: What are some of your favorite things to cook?

RV: When the pandemic began, I tried cooking some things I had never made before. I made a recipe from a book on Chinese cuisine. The dish was braised ham with asparagus. I saw a lot of the more savory dishes in this book had you add sugar into them. This dish appealed to me because I like ham, but the stock I used really added a new dimension. The asparagus also soaked up the flavor well. I also tried making chicken marsala for the first time. This has always been one of my favorite dishes because I love chicken and mushrooms. I had never made it before but had always heard it was an easy one. By the time I was done, it looked and smelled amazing. I was very proud of this one because I felt like I could check cooking this off my list.

RC: What are you most looking forward to doing after the pandemic is over?

RV: After this pandemic is over, I’m looking forward to being outside without having to worry about whether someone is too close to me. I am looking forward to taking walks without having to wonder if I have hand sanitizer with me and seeing family without fear of spreading something. I also feel that coming out of this pandemic will mean that things are still different. Washing your hands and possibly wearing a mask may have to be part of our lives.

However, I think it is important to be hopeful about this situation. This pandemic has found many of us reaching out to each other. We are responsive, we are social, and we are creative. We find ways to connect when our normal pathways are blocked. Our desire to see each other makes me feel that there will be a day when it is just as safe again.