Dayra and Felipe Mendoza
Information Technologies & CAPS
Lobos, in sickness and in health
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?
For many people, going to work every day at different places serves as a pleasant respite from their spouse. But that’s not what Dayra Fallad-Mendoza and her husband Felipe Mendoza believe.
Having been inspired by his wife’s accounts of on-the-job excitement at UNM, Felipe decided to get a University job about two and a half years ago, and now works for UNM Information Technology – helping to maintain computer networks across all of UNM’s campuses. He says now the campus culture and community has woven seamlessly into the fabric of their everyday lives, strengthening along with the mounting list of organizations and groups they get involved in.
Dayra’s first introduction to UNM as a staff member was as an undergrad, as a new student orientation leader. After working as a student employee and then a high school equivalency recruiter, she discovered that a career in higher-ed might be just the thing for her.
“I loved working with students and being on campus,” she said. “Then I realized that you could get paid to do it!”
Right now, Dayra is the program specialist for online learning at the UNM Center for Academic Program Support (CAPS) and oversees all of the online tutoring. Her time is spent mainly hiring and training online tutors, but she also provides other departments around campus with workshops focused on organizational learning. Last summer, she was instrumental in creating a new online tutoring platform for CAPS, replacing the previous, notoriously buggy platform.
“It needed a lot of updates and improvements that were not coming fast enough, ”She said. “So we just got the idea of, ‘what if we put together our own platform?’”
Her master’s degree is in Organization, Information and Learning Sciences (OILS), and she was recently awarded the Outstanding Staff Award from the Provost’s Committee for Staff.
Dayra has held various positions throughout campus during her almost ten years working at UNM. And as she moves around the campus, she is reminded of the good times she’s had at each of these positions. She and Felipe frequently visit El Centro de la Raza for lunch, where she used to work, and remains close to the staff. In fact, the two are seen so often together, people have been known to confuse which person works for which office. While she worked there, visitors to El Centro would sometimes mistakenly assume that Felipe worked in the office and that Dayra was visiting him.
“Or they would think I was a professor,” says Felipe. “So that was fun. I wouldn’t correct them.”
Their penchant for friendliness and passion for volunteer work has created quite a heated competition between the two of them. Whether it’s who’s working with what program or how many people they’ve met on campus, there is always a tally going.
“We haven’t calculated it,” says Felipe. “But I think that I’m ahead.”
The origin of this rivalry, according to Dayra, comes from her days as an Office of Student Affairs Fellow.
“When he started here, he was like, ‘I’m going to be a Fellow too,’ and I was like, ‘No, only REALLY cool people get to become Fellows,’” she said. “And not even a year in, he becomes a Fellow.” It’s Felipe’s belief that this is when he began to take the lead.
Aside from their competitive nature, they couldn’t be more supportive of each other’s goals. There is a lot of love between the two of them, and it shows in how they speak about one another.
“He’s just got a really good sense of humor. He encourages me to pursue things that I’m a little bit scared to do, or I’m trying to talk myself out of. I feel like that’s extremely valuable.”
Just as he encouraged her to get her masters (while still working and raising kids) Dayra is also looking forward to doing the same for Felipe. According to her, he didn’t really have much desire to even get a degree until starting work at UNM.
“He’s going to be done with his degree in two semesters and he’s already talking about a masters and a PhD.,” she said. “To see that transformation is really cool and I feel like I’ve done my part in the world. I’ve done my job.”
Dayra jokes that they’re known as the “UNM people” with their extended families and friends. It should come as no surprise that her niece is scheduled to start classes as a freshman this fall semester. The impact their involvement with the UNM community has had on their lives is hard to deny, and they know it.
“When I married her, I didn’t know that I was being married into UNM,” Felipe jokes.
Now that’s commitment.