Administrative Assistant Says Physics Department is “Like Family”

Anna Milardo, administrative assistant for the Department of Physics, has worked at Wesleyan 36 years.
Posted 10/02/07
Q: Anna, rumor has it that you’ve been here a long time.

A: I started in November of 1971 and lo and behold, 2007 comes and it seems that just a moment has gone by, and I’m still in the Physics Department. You can see that I am very adventuresome — job-wise that is.

Q: Something had to keep you here for 36 years.

A: Wesleyan has allowed me to be expressive and creative, and be appreciated for who I am as a person and as a professional. I like to think of our department and Wesleyan as a family. Everyone always tries to help each other out. If someone needs a rent, or a ride, or has to go shopping, the students/faculty/staff are always there to make the other person’s life a little easier and welcoming. The genuine concern and care is there for each other. Many opportunities and challenges have been given in attending classes, seminars, luncheons, concerts, and plays, and in experiencing a very-well rounded life in respecting a different philosophy of thinking, or acting or just living life in a more meaningful and purposeful way. We are always learning from one another every day. Thank you Wesleyan!

Q: What led you to the Wesleyan in the first place, and the Physics Department?

A: I was working in customer service and also as sales correspondence at Wilcox & Critten in Middletown and had received a phone call from Dean Biggs from Middlesex Community College letting me know there was a secretarial position opened in the Physics Department at Wesleyan University, and if I was interested, I should apply. I had received my associate degree from Middlesex Community College in the Executive Secretarial field. While I was a student at MxCC, I worked for Financial Aid, Sociology Department, President’s Office and the Dean’s Office. I missed the academic environment so I decided to apply.

Q: What generally goes on during your work day?

A: I have lots of e-mails to read and send, and faculty, undergraduates and graduate students are always coming in and out of the office for one reason or another. Professors give me invoices for payments, course work, budget questions, reimbursements, and the phone is ringing. I have mail to get done and forward, calls and work order requests to be made.

Q: Who are the key people you interact with in the Physics Department?

A: Professors, postdocs, lab technicians, our curator and students. Students are always around. They have offices on the same floor of our department. I assign rooms for our undergrad course/lab assistants, give them keys and hand out forms. We also have 17 graduate students in the Physics Department, and there is always some form of interaction going on, either announcing that packages have arrived or arranging monthly pizza luncheons for them. Our students are very intelligent, open minded, wise, respectful, friendly, kind, and authentic and appreciative. Wesleyan is like “a melting pot.” I myself came from Sicily at age 5. I enjoy being with students who come from various countries and their cultures that are so diverse and interesting.

Q: How to you advertise upcoming Physics Department events?

A: I post them in calendar events, send e-mails, and write up and mail notices. During the events I buy and set up refreshments and work on reimbursing the speakers.

Q: What are the biggest changes you have noticed in the Physics Department, or Wesleyan-wide?

A: Computers and technical typing. I remember using stencils and running the messy jobs on mimeograph machines. Those machines were very challenging especially on your clothes because of the black stencil machine, or coming home with purple marks on your face from purple mimeograph sheets. It would take forever typing equations with the typewriter. I’m glad those days are over. Now it’s like magic. Whenever you make an error, you push delete key and all disappears. Beats using the blue liquid fluid or razor blade for the mimeo sheets

Q: What are some activities you take part in on campus?

A: I enjoy going to a Muslim or Jewish prayer session and being part of our Christian Fellowship group. I like the activities available at the Freeman Athletic Center, such as dancing, yoga, exercising and Akido. I love that I’ve had the opportunity to take undergraduate courses from Psychology Department, such as Physiological Comparative Psych, Consciousness, Awareness & Behavior Course, and courses in our Graduate Liberal Studies Program in theater, religion, dance and music. Specifically I’ve taken Resistance & Rebellion of the Holocaust, the Bible as Literature, a Native American Music course, Soul and Psyche. One of my last goals is to take an intro to physics class, and then I can retire.

Q: How has your job changed in terms of location and new faces?

A: In 1971 our Physics Office was where all are computers are on the first floor and we later moved to the second floor of the Science Tower now called Exley. From three staff people, I am now the only one. The machine shop and electronics department were once part of our Physics Department. We have new faces every year from undergrad majors to grad students. We presently have a very diverse group of grad students who come from Nepal, Sri Lanka, Iran, Philippines, India, Indonesia, Ecuador and Romania. We also have an undergrad exchange program with Dublin City University in Ireland and we have from Germany grad students who enter our grad program for only a year. In this sense, our department can also be considered a “little part of the melting pot,” which makes it very fascinating, challenging and appealing in the way we interact with one another in a very family oriented style in making everyone “feel welcomed and at home.”

Q: What are your hobbies?

A: Dancing and self improvement. I’ve taken several self improvement, leadership and communication classes including a Self Expression Leadership Course, Relationship Seminar, Communication Access to Power, Communication Performance and Power, Being Extraordinary, a breakdown course and commitment course.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor