If there’s anything positive that has happened in our society within the last year, it has been our long overdue refocusing on unsung heroes – those that aren’t making the news, but are bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s, or a nurse wearing an N95 mask for 12 hours straight or a teacher putting it all on the line to teach students in a face-to-face capacity.
There are many people behind the scenes at Fairfield University that make this school what it is. These people are often not the face of Fairfield University and aren’t seen talking to reporters on the television or interviewed by papers, but each and every day they drive down North Benson Road, sit at their desks and make the university a better place.
One of those people is Sue Victor, operations assistant for enrollment management, specifically working with undergraduate students. She’s better known as the incredibly warm, enthusiastic woman who sits at the front desk of admissions in the Aloysius P. Kelley Center.
Victor has been at Fairfield University for 12 and a half years, sitting at that desk with a smile on her face as she greets the families coming to tour Fairfield. She might even be the first point of contact for some new families, giving them their first impression of what kind of a school Fairfield is and which types of people are in this community.
Victor says her favorite part of the job is, “meeting the families, especially the first-time visitors.” She gushes about how lovely it is to be a part of this exciting process with families.
Other than just being the first point of contact for many families, Victor is in charge of organizing all visitors and tours, and sometimes helps with event planning as well. She loves to witness “when the visitors arrive for the first time. This is really the most meaningful moment. It’s such a pivotal time of life.”
COVID-19 has certainly changed some of this excitement. On a normal warm fall day, 500 students can go past her desk on their way to their first tour, with up to 70 students on each tour.
Fairfield once could’ve bragged that it brought in up to 3,000 visitors a month but all of that has changed. Now, tour guides are capped on the number of people each tour can have.
Victor says this was a blessing in disguise in some ways, as many visitors have commented on how personal the tours are. The tour ambassadors can now talk one-on-one with many of the guests.
These conversations are even more meaningful given the tour ambassadors Fairfield has to offer, with whom Victor works personally. “I have the cream of the crop of students working with me.” She pauses to take a breath, looking out the window and adjusting her mask. “[I’m] just so lucky,” she adds.
The love she has for her tour guides is a two-way street.
“There is not a brighter presence on Fairfield’s campus than Sue Victor,” shared Vincent Gadioma ‘22, a tour guide and President of the Fairfield University Student Association. “Until I met Sue, I’d never met someone so in love with and passionate about the work they do. The unique thing about her role at the Kelley Center is that she has probably met every single student that has stepped foot on our modern campus!”
“If you think about it, she is the first face that everyone sees at Fairfield, and I can say without a doubt that it is her contagious smile and comforting nature that makes prospective students feel especially welcomed into our Fairfield Community,” Gadioma continued. “She is an irreplaceable gem and Fairfield has been so blessed to have her.”
If Victor could pick out a particularly special day, one of those that just sticks out in her 12 and a half years, she would pick May 1.
For those who don’t remember, May 1 is college decision day for prospective students. It is the last day for students to submit paperwork and choose where they are going to spend the next few years. It’s just magical, Victor tells me: “The mom is crying, I’m crying and the daughter looks nervous.” It’s a very big day.
If there’s one thing Victor wants students to know, it’s that she always welcomes them to stop in and say hi to her. Just pop in and give her a wave. “I love the traffic!,” she says.
As we wrap up, I ask if I can snap a few pictures of her in action. She looks overjoyed at the prospect, running off to get another student from the back to be part of our shot.
I laugh and stand chatting to Jess Scanlon ‘21, and ask about working with Victor. “She brightens up the day,” Scanlon says. “Really keeps it lively. She’s always a joy to be around!”
Victor comes back and we snap a few pictures before I wave goodbye. As I’m leaving, Scanlon asks what the photo is for. Victor smiles and tells her, “Oh you’re going to be in The Mirror!”
Scanlon laughs, “You go, Sue!”