Member Spotlight

Interviewer in the Spotlight: Laurie Lynch

by Kirk Davis, SHARE Staff Organizer

Laurie Lynch is relentlessly curious. She is best known to SHARE blog readers as the architect and interviewer behind the “Member in the Spotlight” series on the SHARE-UMMS blog. We consistently seek ways to make work feel like a more fun and respectful place, and Laurie Lynch had one particularly focused vision for making that happen.

Each month for six months, Laurie gave us a portrait of a SHARE member at UMMS. You could call it fifteen minutes of local fame. But Laurie’s aim was something bigger, something more meaningful.

When she conducted an interview, Laurie’s questions went here to there and back again. They were icebreakers. They were mundane. They were lofty. They were weird. The questions stabbed from odd angles into a person’s personality. The results were always surprising. And in the end, the interviews weren’t exactly about employees of UMass Medical School, they were beautiful glimpses into the complex lives of people with whom we cross paths every day.

Turning the Spotlight on the Interviewer

We intend to continue in the tradition, using Laurie’s example as a way to further develop our community. Along those lines, now that Laurie has moved on to a “new” career (one which she adored for over a decade, before the facility shut down), we’ll shine the spotlight up through the dust trail she’s left behind her (she’s always on the move) as a way of saying thank you to her for her excellent work on the SHARE organizing staff.

The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree

Laurie’s from Earth. But, if you push her further on that question, she’ll tell you she’s grew up in North Attleboro, Massachusetts. With three siblings, a wonderful father, and a mother who was and still is an absolute animal lover. There, when she was ten, she met her future husband; they began dating when she was twelve. They eventually married. By the time she was nineteen, they owned their first home in Douglas, where they still live together to this day with their polite and amazing thirteen and fourteen year-old sons.  

Along the way, Laurie picked up a degree in Animal Science from Becker College, and one in Psychology from Bay Path University. Laurie Lynch is constantly fostering dogs, cats, and, from what I can tell, helping entire populations of displaced pets to find new homes. She has traveled around the US, attending all sorts of animal-trainings and conferences, learning how to help continue to aid and improve the lives of animals in research.

Laurie the Shoeless Organizer

Laurie worked as a SHARE staff organizer, brilliantly if briefly, over the past year, mostly with the UMass Medical School side of our union. Early in her work with SHARE, she went “organizing” with another member of the SHARE staff, Andrea Caceres. They went to stop in on a number of SHARE members that day, providing updates about SHARE events, answering questions, and generally keeping in touch with members.

At that point, Laurie didn’t know many members. But she’s a good listener, good-humored and a good sport. Although she was determined to be a dutiful work partner to Andrea, *snap!*, Laurie’s sandals gave up before she did.

And then, somehow, Laurie found herself being convinced by Andrea that they needed to continue through the halls until they had reached everyone they were looking for. So, they made a quick stop in the University Bookstore. When they emerged, Laurie’s feet were shod in a new pair of fluorescent socks. Of course, Laurie wondered if that might not seem a little weird, but when Andrea told her to just keep looking up, nobody would notice, Laurie didn’t flinch, and bravely padded along in her new job.

Laurie Now

Laurie has since returned to a career in Animal Behavioral Research, a track she began with a series of positions at Harvard University. While Laurie was working at SHARE, a Principal Investigator from Brown University approached her and offered her a job she couldn’t refuse, managing his animal lab. She’s back to playing with monkeys all day, trying to figure out how to make them happiest, and learning along the way about animal and human behavior, neuroengineering, optogenetics, and groundbreaking scientific discovery. We miss her here, but we’re very excited that she’s back to doing what she loves; research and caring for primates and all the other wonderful animals in her lab.

20 Fun Facts about Laurie Lynch

  • Favorite color – Blue
  • Favorite season – Fall
  • Beach or woods – Woods
  • The first thing you think of when you hear the word “chocolate?” - Nay
  • What was your worst kitchen disaster? Hmmmmm, well it might not be the kind of kitchen disaster you were looking for, but it happened in my childhood kitchen. My older brother convinced me it would be a good idea to play with matches when I was about 6 or 7. Long story short… the trash light on fire in the kitchen, which caught the curtains on fires, which lead to the wall, etc. It was very early in the morning, my dad was at work and my mom was sleeping. Once my brother finally realized it was out of control, he let me go wake my mother who was able to put most out before the fire department arrived and finished the job for her.
  • Do you have any pets (ha ha!) – 2 adopted dogs and 2 adopted ferrets and most of the time a foster dog in search of their forever home.
  • If you could keep any kind of pet (ethically and responsibly, of course), what would it be? A horse. I’ve always wanted a horse, just don’t have the time, space and money a horse requires.
  • Dream vacation – Anywhere, as long as my husband and kids are there and we are all safe and happy
  • Favorite style of music – Depends on my mood
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off –  No
  • Gift you have given others most often – Probably framed photographs
  • Favorite day of the week – Saturday… day most often spent with family and friends
  • T.V. shows you secretly enjoy – Teen Mom
  • What's your biggest pet peeve – Mean people
  • Do you have dream car – Nope
  • If you got stranded on a deserted island with no power source, what 5 items would you bring – Solar or crank-chargeable radio, lighter, tent, fishing gear and water purifier
  • How’d you get your name? – My mother was named after her mother and my oldest sister after the two of them. My brother was named after my father. My 2nd oldest sister’s name is Sherie Jean, so they wanted our names to be as similar as possible so they named me Laurie Jean (our names kinda rhyme, and end in “rie,” and we have the same middle name.)
  • What languages do you speak – English only
  • Favorite hobbies –  Spending time with my boys!
  • Fun fact that not everyone knows about you – I foster dogs and occasionally cats. Oh and a more interesting one is that I LOVE going ghost hunting at “haunted” locations, like inns and old abandoned prisons.   
  • Do you have a favorite life motto – Live, Laugh, Love

Member in the Spotlight: Kimberly Benoit

We’re excited to spotlight Kim this month! At the same time, we’re sorry to say that this will be the final MITS post from the originator of the column, former SHARE staff organizer Laurie Lynch, who has followed her vocation in animal science: she’s off to do research and serve as an Animal Lab Manager at Brown University. We’ll spotlight Laurie herself in a blog post soon. 

In the meanwhile, if you have a suggestion for an upcoming “Member in the Spotlight,” please let us know! Want to recognize someone who’s retiring soon? Welcome a new member? Highlight someone who’s doing interesting things at UMass? Or impressive things outside the university? Do you yourself want to say “hi” to all of SHARE? We love featuring our own. Please email

Member in the Spotlight: Kimberly Benoit
By Laurie Lynch, SHARE staff organizer

Aww, an animal lover after my own heart! Kim has 2 dogs that she loves and spoils. She has a Silky Terrier named Travis that she adopted a few years ago and she has a Teacup Cockapoo named Molly that she inherited when her mother could no longer care for her.
Kim was also incredibly lucky (in my opinion) to have grown up right down the street from Southwick’s Zoo in Mendon, MA. Her first job as a teenager was working at the zoo, and she continued working there for many more summers throughout the years. Kim shared many great stories with me about her time at the zoo, including one about a chimpanzee they had at the zoo many years ago that she really liked. She enjoys the zoo so much that she is planning on working there again part-time for the 2016 season!
Kim graduated from Blackstone/Millville High School and then went on to Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Travel Tourism Management. After college, she worked as a tour guide for many years and traveled much of the United States, Eastern Canada, France, and Ireland. She loves to travel and plans on continuing.  
Kim also loves to sing. Kim has been singing with the Blackstone Valley Community Chorus for 12 years, since the chorus began. The group is now 60 members strong. Kim told me that, “The members have become like family.” She had also been singing as a Cantor for her church for 30 years, however she just recently decided to take a break from that.
Another one of Kim’s hobbies is woodworking. Kim enjoys making yard decorations out of wood; she stencils what she wants to create, cuts it out, and then paints the piece. When she is done with each new piece, she donates her art. She has donated to her church, The American Cancer Society, and local libraries, just to name a few.
Kim has been working here at UMass in the Department of Neurology as an Administrative Assistant for almost 2 ½ years now. She told me that she works with a great team that includes six Principal Investigators. She believes her boss, Karen Anderson, is an incredible women and mentor. Kim told me, “She is always supportive, easy to talk to and work with.”

25 Random fun facts about Kim Benoit
  • Favorite color – Blue
  • Favorite season – Summer
  • Beach or woods – Woods
  • Chocolate or vanilla – Chocolate
  • Dream vacation – Australia
  • Number of siblings – 4 (1 brother and 3 sisters)
  • Favorite style of music – Classic rock (especially U2 and Eric Clapton)
  • Favorite food – Pizza
  • Do you have any pets – 2 dogs
  • If you could only eat 1 meal for the rest of your life, what would it be – Vegetarian lasagna
  • If you could go back in time, when would you go to and why – 1850’s because it was a time of new exploration and expeditions into the west. It was also a very romantic time in our history.
  • If you got stranded on a deserted island with no power source, what 5 items would you bring – Book on survival, gun with ammunition, her dog, survival kit with utility knife
  • Do you blow dry your hair? or just let it dry on its own, or towel dry – Blow dry
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off – No
  • Favorite book – Any craft books/magazines
  • Last thing you bought – Dog treats (She spoils her dogs!)
  • Favorite day of the week – Saturday
  • T.V. show you secretly enjoy – NCIS & Castle, however, baseball trumps ALL. Kim is a huge Red Sox fan!
  • Favorite Potato Chips flavor – Classic Ruffles
  • Do you play a musical instrument – No
  • What's your worst pet peeve – Being untidy or sloppy
  • Do you have dream car – Anything with four wheels (She likes her car just fine.)
  • Who named you and why – Parents. It was a popular name in the 60’s and her parents liked it.
  • Do you speak any other languages – No
  • Do you have a favorite life motto – “Do what you gotta do to survive.”

Member in the Spotlight: Geoffrey Bottone

By: Laurie Lynch, SHARE staff organizer

Polite, friendly, hardworking, and very much a gentleman: that is how I would describe Geoffrey Bottone. As well as a writer, game designer and an entrepreneur.

Geoffrey has invented several games, including "The Red Dragon Inn." In this card game, participants roleplay as fantasy adventurers . . . after their adventures have concluded, when they’re relaxing and drinking in the tavern. The last player who is both conscious and has money wins.
Geoff also enjoys writing science-fiction fantasy. He has has written and is currently editing several books. Once done, he can start working toward finding a publisher. He does have one published piece of work currently in print, entitled "The Fear Vampire."

Geoff grew up in Cheshire, Connecticut, and graduated from the local town high school before attending Simon's Rock College in Great Barrington, MA. There he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts. He then went on to obtain a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing from Southern Connecticut State University.

Geoff really likes working for UMass, and he enjoys his job as an Administrative Assistant II for both the Brudnick Neuropsychiatric Research Institute (BNRI) and the Center for Comparative NeuroImaging (CCNI). He is very lucky to have an extremely short commute of only about five minutes. He also really admires how beautiful the campus is. He began working at UMass as a temp back in 2010, and was offered a permanent position in 2011, which he happily accepted. The position allows him time in the evenings and on the weekends to continue working on what he is passionate about—writing and creating board games.

25 Random fun facts about Geoffrey Bottone:

  • Favorite color – Black. Why, you might ask? Because Geoff is color blind and black is the one color he can clearly recognize.
  • Favorite season – Autumn
  • Beach or woods – Woods
  • Chocolate or vanilla – Chocolate
  • Dream vacation – Italy AND is getting to go there this summer on a family vacation.
  •  Favorite style of music – Whatever is on is fine
  • Favorite food – Pizza
  • Do you have any siblings – 1 sister and twin brothers
  • Do you have any pets – No
  • If you could only eat 1 meal for the rest of your life, what would it be – Could NOT do it! No way!
  • If you could go back in time, when would you go to and why – 9-10-2001 to warn everyone and stop the attacks on 9-11-2001.
  • If you got stranded on a deserted island with no power source, what 5 items would you bring – A boat, fishing gear, knife, flare gun and a tent.
  • Do you blow dry your hair? or just let it dry on its own, or towel dry – Air dry
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off – Depends on the shoe but does not un-tie sneakers.
  • Favorite book – Anything by Lloyd Alexander
  • Last thing you bought – Replacement pads for Swiffer Wet Jet.
  • Favorite day of the week – Saturday
  • T.V. show you secretly enjoy – Rick and Morty on Cartoon Network
  • Favorite Potato Chips flavor – Original Cape Cod
  • Do you play a musical instrument – A flute - for 1 year while in school.
  • What's your worst pet peeve – People who merge into traffic at the last second and force their way in.
  • Do you have dream car – Tesla Model S
  • Who named you and why – His mother named him; she wanted him to have the same initials as his father but not be a 3rd (father is a junior). Also, his mother really liked the author of Canterbury Tales, Geoffrey Chaucer.
  • What languages do you speak – 4 years of Latin but did not retain any and 1 year of Arabic and all he remembers is how to say in is “انه جنون ليلى. أنا أحبها وتحبني وجملي يحب الجمال لها.” Which means, “He is mad for Layla. I love her and she loves me and my camel loves her camel.”
  • Do you have a favorite life motto – Don’t panic.

Member in the Spotlight: Heather Learnard

By: Laurie Lynch, SHARE staff organizer

"Hmmm, if I could go back to any moment in time, when would I go?" Heather wonders out loud, in response to my question. "I want to say I would go back to the moment, right before I broke both of my ankles doing gymnastics, so I could land the flip right and not break my ankles. However, I learned a lot from that experience and how it feels to be in a wheelchair for quite some time while I was healing. So, I guess I'd have to say my high school trip to Europe during junior year!"

Heather's face lit up and her eyes brightened with excitement as she started reliving the trip in her mind. I asked her what she enjoyed most about the 12 day trip She said, "Everything!" She explained the experience to me as one of those almost-perfect moments in time that could never be repeated. It was a great time and place to be, with great people all experiencing so many new and exciting things for the first time together.

Heather is definitely a glass half-full kind of person. She is a hard worker, who worked while in high school and worked all through college. She is also the sort of person who can make someone feel warm and comfortable right away, as she did for me. She is the type of person who sees a stray cat looking cold and hungry in a parking lot and just cannot leave it behind. In high school, Heather noticed a skinny cat walking around her work parking lot for several days, until one cold October afternoon she came up to her and she was able to pick her up. Heather took the cat home to get warm, fed her, cleaned her up and brought her to the vet. She was nervous that the cat may actually have an owner, but the vet said she was very malnourished, and if she had an owner at some point, they had stopped taking care of her a long time ago. Six years later and she is still Heather's baby.

Heather has already accomplished so much in her twenty-two years: graduating from Lunenburg High School, and obtaining her bachelor's degree from Bridgewater State University in Biology with a concentration in Biomedical and Molecular Science, all-the-while working part-time jobs on the side. After all of her hard work, Heather is finally doing what she loves, science, working in the Cardiovascular Lab in the Sherman Building. She feels very lucky to have landed in such a wonderful lab with two amazing bosses who Heather says have not only been incredible mentors already, but have also been very friendly and patient with her. Although she has only been at UMass for a couple of months, she is already looking into Master’s Degree programs to do part-time in the evenings while she continues working in her new position.

25 Random Fun Facts about Heather Learnard:
  • Favorite color – Purple
  • Favorite season – Summer (She is a Summer baby!)
  • Beach or woods – Beach
  • Chocolate or vanilla – Vanilla
  • Dream vacation – Anywhere with sun, sand, and pina coladas 
  • Favorite style of music – Mostly country, but likes a bit of everything
  • Favorite food – Chicken piccata
  • Any siblings – 3 brothers
  • If you could only eat 1 meal for the rest of your life, what would it be – My dad’s pancakes, with real maple syrup, bacon, strawberries and pineapples
  • If you got stranded on a deserted island with no power source, what 5 items would you bring – A book, sunscreen, water purifier, solar powered radio and a fishing pole
  • Do you blow dry your hair? or just let it dry on its own, or towel dry – Air dry
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off – Only wears shoes to the gym and does untie them
  • Favorite book – Stephanie Plum series, by Janet Evanovich
  • Any pets – 1 family cat and 1 cat she rescued
  • Favorite hobbies – Baking and being outdoors in nature
  • Last thing you bought (other than food) – Long winter coat
  • Favorite day of the week – Friday
  • T.V. show you secretly enjoy – Grey’s Anatomy
  • Favorite Potato Chips flavor – Salt and Vinegar
  • Do you play a musical instrument – No
  • What's your worst pet peeve – Spitting (She answered this question really fast!)
  • Do you have dream car – A new, white, Range Rover Sport
  • Who named you and why – Her mom and dad. They decided to each make a list of the top 10 names they liked, when they compared their lists, Heather was the only name they had both written.
  • What languages do you speak – Took Spanish for 5 years but only retained a little
  • Do you have a favorite life motto – “Believe”

Member in the Spotlight: Holly St. Jean

By: Laurie Lynch, SHARE staff organizer

Holly St. Jean
Holly St. Jean is an amazing, hardworking, intelligent woman who is always willing to go above and beyond to help those around her in every way she can. She is cheerful, and, more often than not, smiling. We are all very lucky to have Holly as part of our SHARE union; she has stepped up and volunteers to help her co-workers by sitting as Secretary on our union's Executive Board. The Executive Board is the group of UMMS employees who serve as the governing body of the union. Members of the Executive Board have many responsibilities, including helping to keep the union strong by talking with and listening to members throughout UMMS, negotiating contracts, advising and advocating for members with problems at work, and addressing issues with management that have an impact on SHARE members.

Holly is also brave and not scared to take a risk, especially if it means the possibility of improving her life. She recently moved on from a five-year position that she enjoyed at UMass' Worcester Recovery Center and Hospital, Continuing Care Units, as an Administrative Assistant for what she believes will be an opportunity to learn and advance in her career at UMass in the department of Disability and Community Service as a Project Assistant II located at South Street in Shrewsbury.

She also took what some might call a risk in love when she signed up on the dating website, E-Harmony. She only met one man that she was interested in, and went out on a few dates with him. However, she nearly gave up on him after she lost touch with him for a couple of weeks. As it turns out, he was away on a trip. He was devastated when he found out that Holly was considering moving on. He was not going to let true love get away! They continued to date for five years, and then married, just over two years ago.

Holly grew up in Worcester with her three younger brothers, and she felt she had a pretty typical childhood. However, others may have found it challenging. Both of Holly's parents are deaf and communicate using American Sign Language. Holly's mom was born deaf, and her father became deaf shortly after his birth, due to an illness.

Mrs. St. Jean successfully achieved her high school diploma from Burncoat High School and went on to obtain her Associates Degree in Human Services from Quinsigamond College. Currently, she is working on completing a bachelor's degree program at Worcester State College. One thing is for sure, Holly has no plans on slowing down anytime soon!       

25 random fun facts about Holly St. Jean:

  • Favorite color – Purple
  • Favorite season – Summer
  • Beach or woods – Beach
  • Chocolate or vanilla – Chocolate
  • Dream vacation – Any tropical island
  • Favorite style of music – Hip-hop, R&B, folk and rock
  • Favorite food – Sushi
  • If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be – Grilled salmon with roasted asparagus
  • If you could go back in time, when would you go to, and why – Right after high school graduation, which is when Holly spent the most time with her beloved Grandmother.
  • If you got stranded on a deserted island, with no power source, what five items would you bring – Husband, book, 3 guinea pigs, sunblock and flip flops
  • Do you blow dry your hair, or just let it dry on its own, or towel dry – Blow dry
  •  Do you untie your shoes when you take them off – No
  • Favorite book – Any book by Jodi Picoult
  • Last thing you bought (not including food) – Green sweater (Wearing it today, very pretty.)
  • Do you have any pets – 3 guinea pigs: Paco, Larry, and Buddy
  • Favorite day of the week – Saturday
  • T.V. show you secretly enjoy – Keeping up with the Kardashians 
  • Favorite potato chip flavor – Salt and vinegar
  • Favorite hobbies – Shopping for clothes and playing video games
  • Do you play a musical instrument – No, but wishes she could
  • What's your worst pet peeve – People who complain but do nothing about it
  • Who named you and why – Paternal Grandmother; she rubbed her mother’s belly and said, “My little Holly Ann.”
  • What languages do you speak – American Sign Language, English and very little Spanish
  • Any nicknames - Hol
  •  Do you have a favorite life motto – “Be Yourself.”

Member in the Spotlight: Joe Guarini

by Laurie Lynch

When I asked Joseph Guarini if he could travel back in time, what point would he choose, and why, he thought about the question, and then apologized. “If given the choice, I’d really prefer to go to the future instead. I’d really like to see how the technology has advanced. The flying cars . . .” he began.

Joseph, known to his friends and co-workers as Joe, is a kind conversationalist, and his curiosity is apparent. His history has brought him through a variety of jobs and interests. In all of his experiences, he has found it important to demonstrate his dedicated work ethic.

Joe grew up and has spent most of his life in the town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. He has a younger brother who has two children, and they also live in Shrewsbury. Growing up, Joe and his family took several trips, including a memorable one to Disney World, and another, with his paternal grandmother, to Canada.

One of Joseph Guarini’s favorite hobbies as a child was looking at the stars, moon, and planets through his telescope, which he received as a gift from his parents. The telescope, along with Joe’s favorite television show, “Cosmos: A Personal Voyage” with Carl Sagan, inspired a lifelong interest in astronomy. Joe was given a copy of the companion book to the series for his 14th birthday, and it remains a personal favorite. After receiving his high school diploma from Shrewsbury High School, Joe was accepted at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He lived on campus while earning his degree in Astronomy.

After completing his undergraduate degree, and working at the retail store Caldor for some time, Joe decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Library Science. Joe attended SUNY (State University of New York) Albany, NY and obtained his degree. After that, Joe returned to Caldor while pursuing a library job.  In fact, he worked at that Caldor in Westborough for a number of years, until the store closed. He then worked at Radio Shack for two years. He also volunteered at the Shrewsbury Public Library, where he updated the cataloging system for the books there from Dewey Decimal 19 to DD 20. He also volunteered at a local public radio station (WICN in Worcester, station 90.5 FM) where he did data entry from information on classical CD’s.

In May of 2001, Joe began working here, in the Lamar Soutter Library. His favorite thing about working at the library is the people he gets to work with. I asked Joe how he feels about being part of a union. “I think people, even at the professional levels, would be better off with a union,” he said. “Unions are good for most people, and I like being part of one.”
20 Random Fun Facts about Joseph Guarini:
  • Favorite color – Red (Joe drives a red car.)
  • Favorite season – Summer (Although he likes them all.)
  • Beach or woods – Beach
  • Chocolate or vanilla – Vanilla
  • Dream vacation – Greece to see the Ruins
  • Favorite style of music – 50’s rock and roll (Especially Buddy Holly and Elvis)
  • If you could only eat 1 meal for the rest of your life, what would it be – Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti. (Joe used to order this every Friday night when he and his family went out for dinner in Webster Square.) 
  • Do you have any pets – No (However, Joe had a dog named Buddy growing up.)
  • Do you blow dry your hair, or just let it dry on its own, or towel dry – Towel dry
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off – Untie
  • Favorite book – Companion Book to the Cosmos by John Gribbin
  • Last thing you bought –Breakfast, but if not food related it was Star Trek: the Original Series on DVD
  • Favorite day of the week – Sunday - for relaxing
  • T.V. shows you secretly enjoy – 2 Broke Girls, Big Bang Theory, and Supergirl
  • Favorite potato chip flavor – Plain Kettle Cooked Cape Cod Chips
  • Do you play a musical instrument – Trombone in his high school band and now he plays keyboard in a band with some of his coworkers from the library
  • What's your worst pet peeve – Being rushed
  • Do you have dream car – Classic Rolls-Royce . . . or a new Prius
  • Who named you and why – His father because his parents decided if he was a boy, his dad would get to name him and if he was a girl his mother would
  • Do you have a favorite life motto – "Don’t try for perfection, just try for improvement."

Member in the Spotlight: Delia Perez

Delia Perez
Interviewed by Laurie Lynch

Delia is a bright, outgoing, hardworking woman who always has a smile on her face and is always willing to help out her co-workers. Delia Perez began work as an Intake Assistant for the University in the department of Coverage Enhancement and Appeals Programs in July of 2014. In her day to-day-work, she handles and processes important paperwork for organizations such as The Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA). She loves her co-workers, and recently joined the Diversity Committee at UMass.

Delia grew up in Worcester and graduated from North High School. She also spent a lot of time in New York, where some of her aunts lived, during school vacations and summers. Her mother has fifteen siblings, and her father has twelve! Delia has two brothers, one older and one younger.   

Delia holds her family to be incredibly important. In fact, many members of her family were instrumental in naming her. In her family, they believe a family tradition can predict the sex of a baby. The prediction is made by hanging a chain with a charm over the pregnant mother's belly; the direction it swings tells you if the baby will be a boy (swings back and forward) or a girl (swings in a circular motion). Her grandmother performed this tradition and it told Delia’s family that she would be a boy. However, Delia’s aunt (also named Delia) was the only one who said the chain was wrong. So, Delia’s mother and aunt made a bet that if Delia was born a girl, she had to be named after her aunt. (No one remembers what her mother would have won if Delia had been born a boy.) At 5:15, on October 22, Delia’s aunt won the bet.
In the future, Delia hopes to become a teacher and work with children with special needs, specifically children who are blind, deaf, or mute. She plans to continue with her education at Worcester State University, where she has already completed two years of her undergraduate degree.

25 Fun Facts about Delia Perez:

  • Favorite color – Orange (She is wearing a beautiful orange scarf today.)
  • Favorite season – Autumn (She loves the foliage and all the pumpkin flavored goodies.)
  • Beach or woods – Beach (She is scared of bugs.)
  • Chocolate or vanilla – Chocolate (100% chocolate girl!)
  • Do you have any pets – No (She did have a wonderful Pitbull named Jada. But, due to Delia's schedule, Jada now lives with one of her uncles.)
  • Dream vacation – Africa or Thailand (She has always wanted to go to Africa, and Thailand is so beautiful she would love to go and experience the culture.)
  • Favorite style of music – Very eclectic (Depends on her mood; likes Classical to Hip Hop and everything in between.)
  • Favorite food – Anything Spanish
  • Do you blow dry your hair, let it dry on its own, or towel dry – Towel then air dry
  • Do you untie your shoes when you take them off – No, leave them tied
  • Favorite book – Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Blubber by Judy Bloom (Delia and her mother used to read these books together growing up.)
  • Last thing you bought – Italian bread (Made garlic bread with it, to go with her dinner last night.)
  • Favorite day of the week – Friday (End of the work week.)
  • T.V. shows you secretly enjoy – Once Upon a Time and The Mindy Project
  • Favorite Potato Chips flavor – Wachusett Barbecue (She puts them on everything she can, including her sandwiches.)
  • Do you play a musical instrument – Flute (When she was in grade school, she thought she was really good, but now knows she was really bad!)
  • What's your biggest pet peeve – People who chew like cows
  • Do you have dream car – Range Rover, olive green with cream leather interior
  • If you could only eat 1 meal for the rest of your life, what would it be – Mofongo (A fried plantain-based dish, typically made with fried green plantains mashed together in a pilón, with broth, garlic, olive oil, and pork cracklings or bits of bacon.)
  • If you could go back in time, when would you go to and why – To before her grandparents passed. They helped raise her and although she told them how thankful she was and how much she loved them all the time, she would love the chance to tell them again.
  • If you got stranded on a deserted island with no power source, what 5 items would you bring – A good book, big notebook, pen or pencil, thread with an attached needle and a pot
  • What languages do you speak – English, Spanish, and learning Arabic
  • Favorite hobbies – Knitting and cooking (She loves to experiment with new recipes. She just found a recipe for Jamaican Patties that she plan on making soon.)   
  • Fun fact that not everyone knows about you – Aunt is a published author (Maggie Millet)
  • Do you have a favorite life motto – “A closed mouth don’t get fed”