I remembered seeing Trixie at a couple of the PSA events, and I knew that she was active with all of the Asian American organizations. I was always drawn to the glasses. I think a part of me always wished that I could sport them myself.
I was always a non-member, member of PSA. I would pay dues or attend events at random, but I was always jealous of the Kuya/Ate/Ading program they had. Literally everyone would call each other by their designated sibling title in Tagalog, and it would make any only child go mad. I even signed up twice for it (sorry, Cathy, but I think we were paired because we were the only two Koreans in PSA at the time).
BTW, I wasn’t the best Ading/Kuya around, but this isn’t about me.
I remember filling out the form to apply, hoping that I’d hit the jack pot (what that meant, I have no clue). I didn’t realize it then, but I would be paired with a truly loving and caring person. I always wondered where I got this extreme habit of wanting to help people with their problems, critique their resumes and cheer them up when career building felt more like career dreaming. There was never anyone like that in my life. Except for Trixie. She was that person for me.
I was nobody. I still am, but again, this isn’t about me. I was just transferring from the School of Music, and I had nothing to my name. I was already burnt out trying to get all of the prerequisites and at that point in my life, I was regretting a lot of the decisions I was making to jump ship. I would see classmates who were years ahead of me, and I was just trying to get my feet on the ground.
Career fair began at the beginning of every semester, and I still remember the day pretty clearly. It was a gorgeous day. The sun was out, and it was one of those winter mornings where no matter how cold it was, you felt a warmness around you. I attended my 8AM Intro to Leadership course that morning wearing a suit for the first time in my entire life. I was anxious and miserable all at the same time.
You see, a couple of weeks before, Trixie asked me if I was going to go to the career fair. I thought to myself, “What the hell? I have to start finding a job already? I just got here!”
I felt like an idiot. Luckily, Trixie reviewed and critiqued my resume, and even let me see how she put her resume together. Trixie was an all-star, and she still is, but at the time she had just done her internship at GE’s premiere Financial Management Program, and I was being groomed by one of the best. It’s one of GE’s famous leadership rotational programs, and they only looked at the best of the best. Luckily, they had her. She had just finished doing work in one of their divisions to divest one of their manufacturing arms…I didn’t even know what a divestiture was at that time, and I was just like, “Damn…that’s awesome.”
She literally did everything she could for me. She dropped off resume paper for me. She gave the final approval of my resume, and she even gave me her portfolio folder.
I still remember that morning, before the career fair, she told me to call her and tell her when I’d get to the Union, so that she could talk to me. I took the 10 minute walk to get to the Union, counting each and every step, and when I got there, she handed over her very own leather, UIUC emblem embossed, folder and she said, “Keep it…I won’t be needing it anymore.”
“What a stud,” I thought.
I was the only person who came to the career fair without one. Chalk one up to the novice, but luckily she always had my back. I remember I walked around the career fair twice sooo afraid to talk to any of the recruiters, and I didn’t. I walked outside to wipe the sweat off of my face. I was dying and I hadn’t even done anything. It was already two hours in and I was thinking about how I could reapply to the School of Music. I called Trixie again, and she came down and asked me how things went. I lied and said things were going well, but she knew I was tanking. She told me to stop worrying and just approach a random company for my first talk and not even think about getting an interview. Just talk.
Another hour passed, and I decided to just go for it. I walked up to Canon. I thought Hey, I love photography, so I’ll just talk to the recruiter about their camera lineup and what she thought about the market for digital photography, right? You see, I read somewhere that you should be knowledgeable about a company and their products/services. It was my turn. I walked up. The recruiter had no idea what I was talking about. Apparently, Canon does 100 things other than digital photography, and I remember the conversation ending very quickly…I didn’t even get a business card. I told Trixie about it all, and we laughed. After that huge flop, nothing really scared me anymore and it turned into a big game for me. Somehow, I got called back for 3 interviews. Unfortunately, when I told them that I had not taken any business classes yet, the honeymoon ended, but that’s all I really needed for my first experience.
Trixie even passed my resume along to GE, and walked me through the info-night process and even told me what things I should talk about. I got an interview for the same internship she had just finished up, and when I looked at the sign-in sheet for the first round of interviews, it was all Technology & Management students, so I knew it wouldn’t last long, but again, she went above and beyond for me.
I even remember her taking me out for Happy Hour at Legend’s on a random weekday. I never drank, and I had never gone to a bar before, so I was pretty nervous. Don’t laugh. People who know me, know that I’m not a bar-guy, a drinking-guy, or a guy-guy at times, so whatever. She showed me the menu and told me to order a drink, so I ordered Sex on the Beach. She laughed. It tasted awesome. It was only until later that I realized that there was a continuum of feminine to masculine drinks, and I was ordering off the wrong end.
We just talked and talked. We ordered burger and fries. We talked some more and she walked me through the concept of cocktail hours and social events that I would have to experience for the remainder of my time as a business student. She showed me the ropes and even walked them with me. Looking back on all of it, as sad and hopeless as my situation sounded, would you ever imagine meeting someone who would do that for you?
There was also an awesome night where we went out to Schnuck’s, bought some cupcake mix, and baked cupcakes. Purple cupcakes don’t ever turn out purple, but I remember bringing some back home and sharing them with people at 808. Trixie made a ducky cup cake if I remember correctly. Or at least that was the intention.
All of the stories are have follow the common themes of love, laughter, fun, and smiles.
I had more than just an Ate. She was a mentor and someone I would model for years to come. If I hadn’t met her at the time I did, I probably wouldn’t have made it very far.
Trixie went above and beyond what anybody would have ever done for me or anyone else for that matter. I have a feeling it was that first experience of meeting someone so supportive in the College of Business that set a very high standard for me. A standard that I tried my best to follow years after.
For everyone who knows me pretty well, you can probably tell that these stories sound very familiar in that these are some of the same things I do to this day. Trixie had a lot to do with it.
We all need to be a little more like Trixie. We really need to start investing in others. Even if we don’t realize it until years after, looking back, it’s all worth it.
The last time I saw Trixie was when I was living in Lakeview, walking down Halsted to catch a cab in the morning. I was in a hurry to get to work and after not seeing each other for so long, we said we would catch up. We never did. I was so consumed by my work and random things that weren’t really that important, and I just wish I could have just come to work late that day looking back at it all now.
Trixie, I just want to thank you for teaching me so many beautiful things about life and how to live it. I know I never got to share all of my accomplishments with you in person, but just know that everything you’ve done for me and all the times you encouraged me…I will never forget them.
Thank you, Ate.