Darlene Starnes has been the administrative assistant in the Office of Multicultural Affairs for the last five-and-a-half years, but her duties extend far beyond the normal duties of an administrative assistant, as she mentors students to help them navigate through Wake Forest and prepare for life after college.
What do you do?
I fulfill the historically traditional duties of an administrative assistant such as budgeting, scheduling, assisting in program planning, etc. In addition to these duties I also act as a mentor to the undergraduate students, a liaison between OMA and various offices on campus, a parental figure for students (as needed) and a support system to our students as they navigate Wake Forest and life in general. Over the years, the ‘nontraditional’ duties have taken time on ‘nontraditional’ hours; but it’s all something that I love.
What do you most enjoy about your job?
I enjoy seeing the students every day and sharing this life experience with them. I feel like a surrogate mother sometimes cheering for them as they achieve goals, cross hurdles and even when they make mistakes. The students are definitely driving force behind our office and the reason I come to work every day. I am often touched by the relationships that continue beyond graduation. The phone calls, cards, Facebook messages that I am graced with on an ongoing basis reach the very core of my heart. I often tell others, that if I could, I would do my job for free.
I know you have an unusual background?
I was born in Guam but left at a very young age. I really don’t remember much about my time there, but my parents were very intentional about sharing the Chamorro traditions. We moved to Kansas of all places because my parents felt there would be greater opportunities than in Guam. I later met my military husband. He is from Winston-Salem. When he left the military we moved here.
How did you end up at Wake Forest?
I have friend at church that held this position prior to me. She received a promotion and told me about the vacancy. After having worked in the corporate arena and being a stay-at-home mom, I find that this position has been the best combination of the two.
What do you do when you’re not working?
My husband and I have four kids (two boys and a twin boy and girl) and a new grandbaby, so they really keep us on our toes. We are very active in our church as well. When I do get some down time, I enjoy hanging out with family and friends over a nice meal, traveling, or just staying home and relaxing. I have two sisters who moved to Winston-Salem to help me when our twins were born. I love family gatherings that allow me to spend time with all 12 of my nephews and nieces. I consider the students and OMA staff an extension of my family.