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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

‘Invisible’ staff member forms connections on TR

Georgia+Phillips%2FThe+Collegian++Sylvia+Ramirez+serves+as+a+janitor+on+TR+Campus+and+is+recognizable+to+several+students.+Ramirez+works+for+GCA+Services+Group%2C+the+cleaning+company+contracted+with+TR+Campus.
Georgia Phillips/The Collegian Sylvia Ramirez serves as a janitor on TR Campus and is recognizable to several students. Ramirez works for GCA Services Group, the cleaning company contracted with TR Campus.

By Erin Ratigan/tr news editor

Georgia Phillips/The Collegian  Sylvia Ramirez serves as a janitor on TR Campus and is recognizable to several students. Ramirez works for GCA Services Group, the cleaning company contracted with TR Campus.
Georgia Phillips/The Collegian Sylvia Ramirez serves as a janitor on TR Campus and is recognizable to several students. Ramirez works for GCA Services Group, the cleaning company contracted with TR Campus.

On a typical school day, Sylvia Ramirez can be found in the halls or by the café on TRTR Main Street. With kind eyes and an infectious smile, Sylvia stands about 5 feet 2 inches tall and is shorter than a lot of the students around her.

But she is not a student.

Sylvia has worked for GCA Services Group, the cleaning company contracted with TR Campus, since 2009. Every day she wakes at 5:30 a.m. to prepare for work. She works two shifts at different locations: the first 8 a.m.-5 p.m., the second 6-10 p.m. on TR. She does all this while single-handedly raising two children. She only gets to spend time with them on weekends.

She said she has made several friends among the other staff.

“It’s comfortable working here,” she said. “I enjoy it.”

Before this job, she worked in a cell phone factory as well as several hotels and restaurants. She has lived in Texas for eight years after immigrating to the U.S. from Zacatecas, Mexico, to make a better life for her children.

As she changed trash bags in the cafeteria, she worked swiftly and efficiently even though each bag was nearly as tall as she is.

Not only has Ramirez made friends among the staff, she has also made friends with some of the students. When TR student Juan Rodriguez walked up to her, she instantly started smiling.

Rodriguez has frequently seen Sylvia working and has spoken with her in Spanish on several occasions. He said they usually talk about her family life and how her children are doing in school.

“She’s really nice,” he said. “She is always smiling.”

Indeed, Ramirez is known among the staff for her shy smile. Though she does not speak much English, her presence alone is reassuring and maternal.

Rodriguez said the cleaning staffs don’t get enough respect. He said some students do not appreciate the importance of what they do and are quick to take advantage of it.

“Some people abuse that privilege of being cleaned up after,” he said.

TR Campus president Tahita Fulkerson said while other employees often don’t get enough credit for their work, this is especially true for the cleaning staff.

“Occasionally at Trinity River Campus, we have scheduled special appreciation events for our cleaning staffs,” she said. “But we probably do not do it often enough.”

TR student Christina Crayton says the cleaning staff often seems invisible to students.

“[Students] probably don’t notice them,” she said. “They don’t get much respect for the jobs they do.”

Whether recognized for it or not, Crayton said the work the cleaning staff does is important.

“[It is] just as important as anyone else’s job,” she said.

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