'People person' Gerry Roy enjoys students, fast-paced custodial job

In this issue’s Spotlight, meet custodian Gerry Roy, who cleans the Poucher wing of Marano Campus Center and Swetman Gym, taking pride in her duties and enjoying her encounters with students, faculty and colleagues.

Q. What is your full first name?
A. Geralyn. It came from St. Gerard, the patron saint of mothers. My husband’s name is also Gerard, so we’re both Gerry. I’m Gerry1 and he’s Gerry2. (Laughs.)

Q. Where were you born and raised?
A. Oswego. The East Side, down by the lake, Second Ward. I’m still on the East Side.

Q. When did you start working for SUNY Oswego?
A. I came in ‘93. I started at the president’s house for Dr. Weber and his wife, part time. I went full time in Housing and now I’m full time in Academics, 6 to 2:30. I have been in Academics since 2000.

Q. What are your duties?
A. I’m a Grade 7 janitor and building supervisor. My responsibilities are keeping up my building, Poucher Hall, and the Swetman Gym area. I do think of my building as “Poucher Hall.” When I first came here, that’s what it was named, but we’ve gone through two changes already—Campus Center and now it’s the Marano Campus Center and it’s all connected. I’ve just got to get used to it—it’s a change. I take care of classrooms, offices, bathrooms, hallways, entrances, the gym, the locker rooms. I have five entranceways that I shovel in the winter. I would love snow if it wasn’t part of my job. (Laughs.) I also help with the Parking Office once or twice a week.

Q. What do you think of SUNY Oswego students?
A. Sometimes, when I’m outside shoveling snow, the students will walk by and they’ll thank me: “Thank you for doing this.” “Thank you, you’re doing a great job.” And I’ve even had male students offer to help me. To me it’s kind of rewarding, even though I don’t like shoveling, that they see what I do and appreciate it. I love the students. They are just wonderful, it’s like I’m their Mom away from home. They’ll come in the bathroom if I’m in there and they’ll go, “What do I look like? Does this look good on me? What does my hair look like?” In my area, I have the EOP and OLS department, and the kids are just a great group of kids. If there’s something going on with them, they may talk a little bit, and I’ll listen and say, “You’ll get through it.”

Q. What do you like about your job?
A. There’s a great group (of faculty) that I work with. My custodial department is a great group, too, along with my supervisors—all great people. I’m a people person. I love to meet new people, and there’s always somebody new coming in and out. The job is good exercise for me. I’m constantly moving, and my job is pretty physical. I guess I like the fast pace of it. I get exhausted sometimes with the shoveling and then I’ve got to still come in and clean my area. But it keeps me going, it keeps me fit. My house? I let that go! (Laughs.) Cleaning my house is the last thing I want to do, but I know it has to get done.

Q. What do you do on the job when the students are on break?
A. We have projects that we need to do. We do top-to-bottom cleaning, a lot of shampooing, moving—we do a lot of moving of offices and classrooms, different people who are moving from office to office. Right now in my area, we took out a classroom and we’re making two offices out of it. And we keep up with the snow.

Q. Were you here when the Marano Campus Center was being built?
A. I think Campus Center was here a year when I came. This (Swetman Gym part of the wing) wasn’t even open yet. It was all torn apart and you couldn’t even walk down the hallway. I vaguely remember old Swetman (Hall), what it looked like from before to what is now: the big circle, the nice entranceway—all of it has changed so much. A lot more windows to clean! (Laughs.)

Q. What do you like to do off the job?
A. My husband and I are starting to travel. We went to St. Martin last April—very, very beautiful. We went to Washington, D.C., and that was an awesome experience, a very emotional experience. Just to see all the history, the Vietnam Memorial—very emotional, seeing men sobbing. We’re hockey fans—we love Oswego State hockey! My son and husband and I also went to Montreal for a Canadiens hockey game against the Rangers. My son and I are Rangers fans and my husband is a Canadiens fan, so it is a fun night at our house game night when they play. In summer, I’m always out gardening in my flower garden. I love my birds in my backyard. I volunteer for things like a cancer benefit, and I volunteered for the first time for Toys for Tots at Christmastime in Swetman Gym. I was an elf helping family members choose their gifts. Mostly, I enjoy my grandchildren—spending lots of time with my family.

Q. What else can you tell us about your family?
A. I have five grandchildren—four girls and one boy. My daughter, Amber Roy, is an art therapist and lives in the Ithaca area with her fiance and my grandson. My other daughter, Erin Trapasso, lives in Oswego with her husband and my four granddaughters and is a teacher at Fitzhugh, and my son Shane is at home. My husband works at Upstate Medical University hospital.