Originally from Columbia, Maria Difazio has worked in the Magnolia Room at Wake Forest for four years. She is known around campus for her energy and postive attitude that inspires many students.
Maria has two kids and says her favorite part about working at Wake Forest is the students.
What is your life like at home and how long have you lived in Winston-Salem?
I have lived here in North Carolina for 11 years. When I left Colombia, the first place I arrived was Brooklyn, N.Y. I lived in Brooklyn for five years. When my husband decided to retire, we moved to here to Winston-Salem.
This is a very good state for my children. I like the schools and the people are very polite here. For me, New York was a very fast city that I enjoyed. You never get bored in New York. But this is the perfect state to raise your kids. It’s very quiet and the schools are great. I love it.
How old are your kids?
I have two children. My daughter is 25 and my son is 20. I don’t have any grandkids, but I’m waiting! My daughter got married last June. I tell her I am ready to be a grandmother and she always says “No — you need to wait at least three more years!” They have plans to travel, and she’s working, so she doesn’t have time for babies right now.
Why did you decide to move to North Carolina?
My husband’s sister had lived here for 40 years, and she said that if we were thinking of moving, we should come here because this is a great area. So we came three times to visit and I really liked it. It’s not too cold like New York and not too hot like Miami. I think this is perfect because it’s more like my country of Columbia with the mountains.
How long have you worked at Wake Forest?
I have worked here for four years. Before Wake Forest, I had never worked. I stayed and did work around the house and took care of my kids and husband.
But in 2008 my daughter graduated and moved to Raleigh to go to college at N.C. State. I couldn’t believe my kid was no longer present in my house. I felt like I didn’t have my life without my daughter in the house.
So I decided, ‘no this is not my life’ I need to do something. I said to my husband, ‘Let’s go! I need to do something help me to find a job!’ He said, ‘Maria, but what do you want to do? You’ve never worked and you speak Spanish. You don’t talk too much English.’
And I said ‘I don’t care. Let’s go to find a job.’ So we came here and when I applied, I thought that this was the perfect job for me.
Because when I come here I get to see all the students, and I get to think of them as my children.
The students are just like my own children. I get to see my daughter and my son and so I love and enjoy this job. I’ve spent eight years here in the same position in the Mag. room.
What do you like about your job?
I love the students. I love working with young people. They give me energy and are my inspiration. They make me leave work every day very happy because I love my job. I think it is nice when I see you guys come in with your pretty faces and everyone laughing and having a good time in the Mag room.
I know all the students are very hardworking and are always stressing. So I want them to have a good lunch and even make friends because the tables force people to sit together. I love that and enjoy that.
What is your favorite part of working in the Mag room?
My favorite part is to stand at the front door and to swipe people in. The mag room often has fish, and a lot of the people who love fish often come up here. So I love to tell the fish-lovers about the fresh fish.
What’s your favorite food served here?
Oh my gosh my favorite? I love food, and I love the food served here. I think everything is good, but I really enjoy the salads.
But the chicken is good, and the pork is very very good. We have a very good chef and very good cooking guys, and I think they always make special things for Mag room. I am so happy when the students enjoy it too.
What advice do you have for students?
Oh I have a ton of advice for students. Students have to continue to study their whole life. Never stop.
People have to continue reading. In the books you find and learn a lot about other things and yourself, and you can never be bored as long as you have a book in your hands. That’s my big advice. Reading, do a sport and exercise. All of those things are very important in your life. It’s no use to keep a good body. That’s not interesting. The most important thing is that sports and exercise make you healthy and more powerful and energetic. I feel so much better even if I just exercise for 30 minutes every day. Even dancing. Dancing is a good exercise — I love dancing. When I finish exercising, I always finish with dancing to any song — salsa, merengue, rock. But the dancing keeps me moving which is very healthy.
How do you keep your positive attitude on campus?
I think the first thing you have to do is do something you like and enjoy. If I didn’t like my job, then I don’t think I would have had this same attitude.
But I love my job and everyday I come and am happy to see the students and the other people I work with. It says a lot when you are comfortable in the place you work. I am the kind of person who has to work with people. I couldn’t work in an office with closed doors where I don’t get to see anybody. My personality is to always stay with people.
What’s your favorite tradition at Wake Forest?
The Thanksgiving Dinner we have here in the Mag room is one of my favorites. We always have students come in, but that day is special because staff come in too. So it’s fun to see secretaries, faculty members and professors all come in and it’s really interesting to see the students and the staff all in a small place — it really shows the Wake Forest family. We enjoy that day in the Mag room. And the food during that day in the Mag room is spectacular.
The cranberry sauce, turkey, ham, stuffing, gravy, and even the apple cider. We have many thing I think the people like and I enjoy seeing the people having a good time and being satisfied.
What’s your favorite American tradition?
My favorite American tradition is the Super Bowl. I understand nothing about it, but for me it’s very interesting to see how the people can be so passionate about a sport. I always like watching the commercial.
The companies always pay a lot of money for even just a minute because they know how many people are watching. The half-time show is always so cool too because they always get such great performers. I always like the night-life when people meet together to eat and drink. That is good too. It’s a good tradition.