Story by Zian Ang
Photos by Miles Furuichi
It was a hot day, and tension hung in the air. Students were eagerly waiting in line at the packaging room for what they had splurged online, while Luke Piscitello was doing his usual job of handing them out. All of a sudden things got physical between two students.
For those who were present, Piscitello is now the ‘bouncer’ of the mailroom.
Of course, breaking up a fight isn’t what ‘the mailroom guy’ usually does on his regular basis. But these students don’t have a regular on-campus job. Their jobs extend beyond the confinements of a cubicle and are driven by passion.
A 90-minute walking tour of Chapman over the summer led Tayler Bonfert, who aims to curate art for a living, to landing her “dream job in a smaller scale”. Then when she met Professor Eric Chimenti, Associate Dean of Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences, who eventually gave her a job as an assistant at Guggenheim Gallery.
Bonfert’s job requires her to be the gallery’s handywoman – the installation and de-installation of art exhibitions involve wall painting, nail hanging and hole patching. She also manages both the gallery’s blog and website.
For the ‘Your Shell is Made of Air’ exhibition last January, she not only helped in its installation, but lent a hand in one of the artworks as well. “I got to work with Geoff Tuck, who painted a mural of a map of Los Angeles on the wall, and he asked for my help to paint it,” the art history major said. “I thought it was really cool because he let me sign [the mural] with him.”
Located at the far corner of Chapman’s main campus on Palm and Center, Guggenheim Gallery may be an easy spot to be missed. “I’ve had so many opportunities [through the art gallery] already, and it’s just so sad because a lot of people in Chapman don’t even know about it,” Bonfert added.
Jacob Walker may not have green thumbs from gardening experiences, but he does his job well as a civic engagement assistant in charge of garden maintenance and communications.
Back when Walker was a Glass resident, he often studied in Davis’ community garden for its quiet and more natural atmosphere. Next thing he knew, his favorite study spot turned into his workplace.
His job includes watering, weeding and deadheading plants in Davis’ community garden. He also maintains the delicate pH balance of the grass in Tower Gardens above Argyros Forum. It is almost impossible for the screenwriting major to get the job done without dealing with garden insects.
Walker reminisced on one of his craziest days on the job, when 40 crickets scattered themselves across the ground while cleaning the garden shed. “I’m not super afraid of bugs, but I was in the midst of my own personal battle while people were just walking back to their rooms,” he said.
Walker also founded a small gardening community among Chapman students and faculty. Last semester, professor Dr. Jennifer Funk brought one of the many projects done by the gardening community to her biology class.
He loves working in the garden, as he finds it meditative and therapeutic. “I really enjoy it and would so much rather be getting paid to do this than be working in the desk all the time, and it’s just been great to spearhead my own things,” Walker said. “I have had leadership experiences in the past, but this lets you figure yourself out.”
With additional experience as a personal librarian for previous orchestra director John Koshak, Alvin Ly is currently juggling between being both an orchestra music librarian and a Leatherby librarian.
Ly’s job is to make copies of music scores and ensure things are fit to perform before the beginning of every concert and rehearsal, due to the tendency of original scores getting damaged or lost and its high cost of replacement.
Ly, also a French horn player, explained how his job helps him understand the musical world better outside of his instrument.
“It’s a very different world when you go from a brass instrument to a string instrument because even the notations could be very different,” the music major said. “Understanding how to approach that through my job really helps because you are forced to look at all these parts and understand exactly how they work.”
Although nothing bizarre has occurred to him throughout his job, he said that “You just get a satisfaction knowing that everything is good when you do it right.” “This is the kind of job where if you do it right, nobody notices; but if you do it wrong, everybody notices and they will chew you up for it.”
Rather than packing music scores onto shelves, Luke Piscitello manages students’ packages in the mailroom.
As the winner of best packaging manager for two years in a row, bizarre mailroom stories were expected of the public relations and advertising major.
Besides coming across countless last names that he couldn’t pronounce, or realizing the many different types of freshman students there are, Piscitello’s job of processing packages and handing them out to students have taught him more than just that.
“There’s bad service down there so it can get a little boring and a little lonely too,” he said. “But I’ve learned just to be nice, go with the flow and definitely how to deal with different people better.”
Whatever job is out there, Chapman students seem to always get them done.