I’m a Berkeleyan: Carmen Ortiz

Carmen Ortiz

Carmen Ortiz (UC Berkeley photo by Elena Zhukova)

“No matter what, my dad once said, every day you have to get up, suit up and show up, and the rest will take care of itself.” I’ve never forgotten that, and it has served me well.

Cal Student Central is on the front lines for the university, and we see ourselves as ambassadors for the school. With any visible position, there’s always a lot of scrutiny, and anytime there’s feedback, it’s not always positive. And while I sometimes might run out of gas, I will always give a smile, an encouraging word and try to bring sunshine to you as we pass in the hallway. I bring that into every interaction. It’s my way of saying that you have infinite worth and value.

My son is a UCLA student. He, like some of our students, ran into difficulty adjusting and feeling a sense of belonging. He had many struggles and some of the same issues CSC helps students with every day. I see him in every student we serve, and I think about how I would I want him to be treated. I think about how I’d like to be treated. So, I serve with a servant’s heart doing my best to extend kindness and grace. I have learned that once people see that your intentions are good, the interactions go much better, and you can arrive in a place of mutual respect and understanding, even if the information or the answer is not what someone expected.

CSC opened in spring of 2012. I moved here from Los Angeles to open and manage it. When I arrived, it was only a concept, but I believed I could build a team around the core mission, which was to positively impact the student experience. My goal from inception was to make sure that everyone we served felt welcome and supported.

It’s been a true labor of love. We’ve had some solid victories, including implementing a new virtual queueing system, a way to capture and share student information with campus partners and improving the student experience.  We’ve also had some challenges along the way that have helped us learn and grow.

The work ebbs and flows. In the toughest moments I remember my dad’s words. So I get up, put on the armor of gratitude, which makes everything look like a blessing. I suit up, in true LA style with heels and dresses, and I show up, ready to be my best self no matter what the landscape looks like.

As the university evolves and CSC heads into its next phase, I invite everyone to embrace the change, and as I say, keep your fairy dust and sunshine handy. It truly makes a difference.”

This is part of a series of thumbnail sketches of people in the UC Berkeley community who exemplify Berkeley, in all its creative, scrappy, world-changing, quirky glory. Are you a Berkeleyan? Know one? Let us know. We’ll add your name to a drawing for an I’m a Berkeleyan T-shirt.