Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Patricia Bando’s office is not the easiest to locate. Housed in 129 Lake Street on Brighton Campus, Bando’s workspace is at the end of a circuitous walk up three flights of winding stairs and a long loop around the third floor.

Bando may operate out of sight of much of the University community, but she is more interested in pointing out the work her Auxiliary Services colleagues accomplish each day, though many of them may be similarly overlooked or underappreciated. Specialists in the art of “getting things done,” these administrators and staff work to make sure that their labors blend into the background, creating an appearance of effortlessness.

Caroline Brokamp, Gabriel Parker, and Marie-Laure Siri

Assistant Director for Procurement & Vendor Relations Caroline Brokamp, Transportation and Parking Manager Gabriel Parker, and Assistant Director of Finance & Business Systems Marie-Laure Siri. (Lee Pellegrini)

“We have so many good people who have just been so rigorous in their work,” Bando said, “and they don’t get any recognition.”

The COVID-19 pandemic brought many alterations to Boston College’s complex ecosystem—everything from the campus shuttle bus service operation to the daily cleaning and maintenance of University buildings to how BC students and faculty order food. Administrators and staff in Auxiliary Services worked tirelessly to implement such changes with as little disruption as possible, according to Bando, who believes this behind-the-scenes diligence of the department’s “hidden heroes” deserves notice and appreciation.

When the pandemic began affecting factory production and supply chains, it was Assistant Director for Procurement & Vendor Relations Caroline Brokamp and Director of Operations and Procurement Thomas Williams who ensured that Boston College’s dining experience would maintain its standard level of excellence. The two “not only sourced alternate products, but made sure that we could get them here,” explained Director of Finance and Business Services Robert Goyette, emphasizing the office’s dependence on the pair and praising their navigation of such unforeseen circumstances and their abilities to make modifications in BC’s dining sectors appear seamless.

Beth Burns and Marcela Norton

Human Resources Manager Beth Burns and Employee Relations Officer Marcela Norton (Lee Pellegrini)

The Human Resources department went above and beyond their job descriptions to reinvent Boston College’s new normal. Human Resources Manager Beth Burns never once worked from home throughout the pandemic, said Bando. Burns “saw it as her part to come in…to be proactive.”

Employee Relations Officer Marcela Norton shared this level of commitment, said Bando. At a time of widespread concern about COVID, Norton and Burns were unstinting in their efforts to quell their staff members’ anxieties through their creation of COVID protocols.

“They were on the front lines of helping employees,” said Bando—boosting staff morale and meeting the personal needs of their teams when circumstances called for such support. “They kept things running.”Norton, who earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Boston College, attested that working through COVID was one of the “toughest and most challenging times” in her experience with the University. Such demanding circumstances have not diluted her appreciation of working at BC, nor her passion for service and impactful interaction in her job.

“Each workday can be different: One moment I may be answering questions and helping employees, the next moment dealing with a complaint,” said Norton, who co-chairs the Romero Scholarship Committee and sits on the steering committee for Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month celebrations. “My goal is to promote a positive work environment for the department and to make certain that our employees feel valued and respected.”

Sharyl Thompson, BCDS general manager for McElroy Commons, has been involved in numerous forms of outreach, including the Every Bite Counts program to aid those who are food-insecure in neighboring communities and an initiative through the Boston Private Industry Council to give high school students employment opportunities—many of which led to full-time hires.

Sharyl Thompson and Pedro Garcia

Commons Manager Sharyl Thompson and Pedro Garcia, production manager for Newton Campus. (Lee Pellegrini)

“For some, going to work is a chore, for others a means to an end,” said Thompson. “On reflection, looking at my Boston College employment journey, I do so with one particular word that resonates: opportunity. While the work has been challenging to say the least, I am honored to have had the opportunity to play an instrumental role in the professional development of numerous BC Dining college employees.”

Auxiliary Services senior management also lauds the leadership and dedicated service of Pedro Garcia, Dining Services production manager for Newton Campus, who has more than four decades of experience at BC.

Fiscal Manager Jane Hasselback and Assistant Director of Finance & Business Systems Marie-Laure Siri, who Bando affectionately deems the “two-lady team,” recognized the financial challenges coming Boston College’s way in the pandemic’s wake and fought to get ahead of such crises. The pair were placed in many different roles as their department numbers dwindled and responsibilities piled up.

Goyette applauds their flexibility. “No one ever took the attitude of ‘not my job,’” he said. Bando echoed Goyette’s praise: “They were the heroes back here. They didn’t complain.”

Transportation and Parking Manager Gabriel Parker is another member of the Auxiliary Services team who thrived under the extensive demands created by COVID, noted Goyette. “We had to add buses, we had to make space on the buses, we had to have monitors who had to be standing out there…[Parker] had a lot of pressure on bus services.”

This line of work takes the proverbial village to succeed, said Bando, and Parker exemplifies such a perspective: He cannot put himself in the spotlight without mentioning all those who make his work possible.

Parker’s dedication and excitement was clear when asked for a comment on his experience at Boston College. (“I could write pages on this,” he exclaimed.) Originally working in a more corporate sphere of the parking industry, Parker found he was drawn to the emphasis that BC places on collaboration and the cultivation of an “open and honest” work environment. While he acknowledged that “people tend to only notice parking and transportation services when they aren’t operating perfectly,” he is grateful for the immense effort put in by his team and external partners each day. A true team player, he is “proud” to be a part of the BC community and tremendously grateful for all those who work alongside him.

There are real people who put blood, sweat, and tears, and a lot of thought into the process of getting things done. The most important thing that this team can get back from the BC community is a ‘thank you,’ and just the recognition that all of their accomplishments and the work they put into finishing a task are appreciated.
Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Patricia Bando

Brokamp said her team has navigated “some of the most challenging and complex problems the industry has faced. Just as people experienced food shortages and inflation at the grocery store, we came into work day in and day out trying to solve those problems, ensuring the students got the best possible ingredients and services.”  She credited Assistant Buyers Cindy Yen and Mary Keady for ensuring “we received food every day and that our team always found a chance to smile and celebrate the smallest of victories.”

Reflecting on the past few years, Brokamp noted other pandemic-related challenges, such as redesigning dining halls for social distancing and coordinating donations to local shelters of “thousands of pounds of food in storage” left in the wake of students’ departure from campus in the spring of 2020. Overcoming obstacles was rewarding, she said, “but my favorite part was the people that I did it with.  My colleagues in Dining and Facilities, Cindy and Mary, and the other members of the Auxiliary Services team, are the magic of BC.  They have taught me lifelong lessons about teamwork, collaboration, and how to find a smile on the toughest days.”

Bando’s Auxiliary Services colleagues have appreciated her efforts to uplift the department, and are quick to say she deserves recognition more than anyone.

Bando, Norton said, changed the landscape of BC Dining: “We had a leader who cared and wanted our students to have the best dining experience.” She added that Bando’s leadership saw the introduction of comprehensive training programs and revolutionized lines of communication, creating an environment which enabled her coworkers to flourish.

The fact that Auxiliary Services employees’ efforts often go unnoticed does not correlate with the quality of their work, say Bando and Goyette.  

 “The processes that students encounter and use every day—and can, if it becomes routine, take for granted—don’t happen by themselves,” said Goyette.

“What we do is not magical,” Bando said. “There are real people who put blood, sweat, and tears, and a lot of thought into the process of getting things done.  

 “The most important thing that this team can get back from the BC community is a ‘thank you,’ and just the recognition that all of their accomplishments and the work they put into finishing a task are appreciated.”

Meghan Keefe '24 | Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences | November 2022