Staff Spotlight: Shailaija Campbell-Parker

Shailaija Campbell-Parker is a checker at Valentine Dining Hall who often works late-night shifts. In this Staff Spotlight, Campbell-Parker discusses life as a UMass psychology student and making origami at the checker stand.

Staff Spotlight: Shailaija Campbell-Parker
Campbell-Parker heard about the position at Valentine Dining Hall through LinkedIn. Photo courtesy of Shailaja Campbell-Parker.

Q:Where are you from?

A: I’m from Brockton, Massachusetts. It’s like, 30 minutes outside Boston.

Q:What was it like growing up there?

A: It was okay. It is a sketchy place to be sometimes. There’s a lot going on at night all the time. But, I went to school and did what I could. It was nice living outside of the city.

Q: You told me you’re a student at UMass Amherst. When did you start?

A: : September 2021. So I’m a junior, and I’m studying psychology.

Q: Cool! Do you have any more specific interests in that field?

A: Right now, adolescence. If I keep going on to do clinical psychology, that would be my route.

Q: What about outside of class? What do you like to do?

A: When I have time, I like to play the guitar. My favorite song to play is “The Night We Met.” I also like to play video games — I like to play the game Sims. It’s a cute game. You’re creating these families, and you just go from day to day, through these little characters you make. I also used to read for fun, but now it’s just school, so I don’t read for fun anymore. And then I work.

Q: Right, that was another question I had. How did you come to work at Amherst?

A: I got this job through LinkedIn. I was just looking around, thinking about leaving my other job. I used to be a barista at Starbucks. Now I’m a meal checker at Val, and I’ve been here since late August. Being a meal checker is nice. It’s more lowkey than my previous job. I do work really late though, so that catches up with me.

Q: One time, I saw you at Val making origami during your shift. Can you talk about how you got into that?

A: Yeah. Well, I always make 3D triangles out of paper, like sticky notes, or just random paper. And meal checking can get a little boring, being in one spot for a long time. So usually I’m either doodling, or doing sudoku, and then I started learning other origamis. I used tutorials, and I just taught myself. So now I can do the boat and the butterfly, and I was learning the bat for the season, but it’s hard, so I don’t know if that’s going to work out. The butterfly also took me a bit of time to learn, so I spent some time perfecting it at home.

Q: Do you notice any differences between the people here and the people at UMass?

A: The kids here are nice and polite. They are not as friendly though. At UMass, just with the size of it, you’re meeting new people every single day. Here not so much, it’s more tight-knit. So I don’t think people are as open, which is fine. I’m just chilling, observing.

Q: Have you thought at all about what you’d like to do after you graduate?

A: Yeah, I mean, right now I’m just trying to get by. But after UMass, I’m probably looking for a master’s, either in psychology or public health. And my classes are getting harder. I’m pretty much done with my prerequisites, so they will be a little more in line with what I want, meaning they’ll mostly be psych-based. And then I also have to take Spanish four, which I’m not ready for.

Q: Well, I believe in you. Are there any other hobbies or anything you’d like to mention that you want the people to know about?

A: I just bought a fish! His name is Olympus. He’s cute. I bought him a little house. I’m also getting into planting. And, I do watch a lot of TV. Right now I’m watching South Park. I just finished watching season 14, so I’m getting through it. My favorite character is Butters. He is so adorable and funny, and also really gullible. They mess with him a lot. But he’s been figuring it out recently. So he’s doing a lot better.

Q: Great. Anyone you’d like to shout out before we wrap up?

A: Oh my gosh. My roommates, Michelle and Astrid. We’ve been living together for a couple months.