Q & A with Holly Flaker

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By Floyd Stanley III

What brought you to RC and why do you choose to work here?
“So my interest was to be a part of higher education. I live in Rochester Hills and we absolutely love the community here. So the idea of being able to work within the community where we live was an interest to me. My choice to take this role that I’m in here as the campus store and mailroom manager really is just an opportunity that was available and was willing to come up and accept some kind of a beginning role. I’m hopeful that it evolves quickly to some of their functions that is full time and really leverage the skills that I have.

What is the easiest and hardest part of your job? Why?

“For me, all of the tactical work is quite easy. In my past years ago, in my career, I ran some Walmart stores, and I worked about 17 years for the company. So that’s working with stores that do anywhere from 50 to 150 million in annual sales. So coming into an environment like this is quite easy for me. Really, it only took me a few hours to learn the processes, and I’ve been fine ever since. As far as your question on what’s most difficult, I would say within the first couple weeks it was the names coming in on pieces of mail. Because, sometimes the mail is coming in for people that are no longer on the staff or faculty. Also, I didn’t know who to distinguish well from who was a student versus who was faculty or staff. So that was the only challenge I felt existed for me.”

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

“I would just say the interactions that I get to have with everyone. Been a lot of  student mail once again coming in. At least for these first couple weeks, while kids are getting books and things like that. But to be able to see the kids coming in and out, it’s fun. A situation of that happened a couple nights ago. I happened to walk in and catch the end of the volleyball match, and one of the students who I’ve seen over summer, when he made a decision that he was coming here. I see him and pass him a couple time. He came out of the gym, saw me, and gave me a hug. Those are the rewarding moments.”

What are your hobbies?

“I love sports, really all sports. Basketball, soccer, volleyball, bicycling, you name it. More to play, than to watch. I love cooking. Definitely, into nutrition and wellness. So anything that involves anything around wellness excites me also.”

Where did you grow up?

“Well, for my childhood, I grew up in Troy. My family actually started out in Clawson and I was there until 3rd grade. Then, starting 4th grade, we had built a home in Troy and I started in a Detroit School District. Yeah, that was all in my youth.”

What is your favorite thing to do in Rochester area? Or in Michigan?

“In the Rochester area? Hm… Well, my son plays soccer and as much as I love soccer and watching him play, he plays on the upper soccer fields at Oakland University. So, being a part of his experience, and watching him grow as an athlete, those are some of the favorite things.”

What is your most prized possession?

“I would say the people in my life. My family, I’ve got a daughter whose 22, my son is 8, my husband. Those would be, of course, my parents, my brother, and my in-laws. The people in my life would be my most prized possession.

What is your most embarrassing moment?

“Oh, boy. I probably have too many of them to be able to distinguish. I’m not sure that I can think of something very quickly. I don’t know. I would have to think on that.

What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

“Biggest obstacle? That’s tough. I would say supporting family members with serious health issues. That’s been something of the recent past couple of years, just family members that are dealing with cancer diagnosis and being able to support them and how it impacts everyone. It’s not just the person that’s personally experiencing the disease, but how it changes and impacts everybody else. I would say that’s a big thing, but I think how you cope with that, is you always have to take care of yourself as well. I know, as a caregiver, sometimes, people can very easily put all of their energies and efforts into caring for someone else and they begin to neglect themselves. I think I’m pretty good at remaining balance in those type of situations and making sure that somewhere I find some time for myself to make sure I’m taking care of. So, I’m not going to be any good for anyone else, if I don’t also take care of myself .”

Who was your biggest influence?

“In my career, one of the supervisors that I had about 12 years ago. I think he really represented everything that is often taught to people to be an effective reader. Sometimes, knowledge is one thing, but do we apply the knowledge that we have? In this particular case with this individuals, his name was Steve. To this day, over 12 years, in the reflective of my whole working career, he’s the one person who has exhibited the highest level of integrity. Years ago, I haven’t  worked with, but when my birthday comes around every year, I get a LinkedIn message from him saying “Happy Birthday”. So, it’s someone who walks the talks and when that mentor inspires influences, and for me it was Steve.”