How did you begin working at TRA? Who was your first client?
Before coming to TRA, I worked as a high school teacher in Brooklyn. During one of those long mornings, a favorite student arrived late to my morning class. Aurelia complained how she had to constantly get a cab to get to school during the past month. She had improved greatly since her first year at school, but had to spend enough money that she sacrificed getting a new pair of Jordans. This was the catalyst I needed to bring me back to a love of trains and working towards making public transit more accessible and safe for underrepresented communities that are sometimes forgotten. The work we do is necessary but is often not glamorized, something I got used to from my time as an educator.
The first project I remember being on was an audit of the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority in Dallas, a heritage trolley system, on behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation. It made me realize TRA works with many agencies regardless of size and scope.
What do you like most about your job?
This job also allows me to travel around the country to major cities and continue my joys of visiting more baseball stadiums, trying local cuisines, and exploring areas with headphones in listening to local music produced by people of color. It also provides an opportunity to be like Jane Goodall and explore the true nature of each city. Finally, it provides me the best intangible in working closely with the Illinois Department of Transportation and being able to come back often to my hometown of Chicago to see family and other people I care about, like the Cubs.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
My music tastes continue to leave me a bit of an outsider at times. I am a huge fan of the opera, and I miss my subscription to the Met. On the other side of the spectrum, I will be seeing the Backstreet Boys yet again this year, along with groups like Café Tacvba, Maná, and Tierra Whack. Mixed in between are a bunch of musicals sprinkled in through a subscription in Philadelphia.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
When not spending my time to making transit safe; is it boring to say cooking, baseball, walking around a city, and binge watching the latest good show? Yes? Well, then I’m boring. I also spend my time mentoring students from my alma mater to prepare them for life after the bubble.
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Most of my decisions are made based on my taste buds and stomach, so I probably will continue to go where I can find a good meal. Right now, I’m interested in traveling through the Yucatan peninsula and explore the indigenous cuisine of the area while appreciating the labor and effort brought forth by the mujeres in the area.