Maritza Melara, a recent MET College graduate, is not your typical BU student. Just like many other undergraduates, Melara often pulled all-nighters during her time at BU. But unlike many of her classmates, she wasn’t up all night studying. Instead she worked the night shift as a custodian for the University. This meant Melara, who started working at BU in 2010, often spent 13 hours a day at the University between her night classes and her 11 p.m. – 7 a.m. work shift.
Melara started working as part-time custodian for BU at age 19. She was referred by her mother’s friend, a BU employee, who told her that the University paid well and offered great benefits. Though she had already started working towards her associate’s degree at North Shore Community College, she was eager to take classes at BU, a benefit offered to full-time University employees, so that she could earn a bachelor’s degree. After a year of working part-time, a full-time night-shift position opened up. Though not ideal, Melara took the opening instead of waiting for a day-shift position because it meant she could start school sooner.
Having come to the US at age 9 from El Salvador with parents who had little formal education, she was faced with learning a new language. The language barrier was a big challenge in growing up as her parents were unable to assist her with homework. Melara says that she didn’t think getting a bachelor’s degree was in her reach, especially without taking on significant debt.
“My mother always guided me to continue my education to have a better future than she had,” said Melara.
Even when she was moved to the day shift after two years, her commute from Lynn meant she woke up at 5 a.m. and didn’t return home until 10 p.m. Attending school became even more challenging when she had her son a year and a half ago. Fortunately Melara had the support of her family to help with childcare so that she could continue classes.
“Even though times were tough, I put my mind to my goals and made sacrifices along the way.”
The sacrifices and hard work paid off when Melara when, in addition to graduating with a degree in management studies, she was promoted to area manager. In her new role working for Facilities Management & Planning, Melara will be overseeing custodial staff working in 55 brownstones on Bay State Road.
“Her determination is something that is very commendable, and it is a pleasure to welcome her onboard and see her grow in her professional career,” said Director of Custodial Operations, Carlos Vazquez.
Melara credits the atmosphere of teamwork she experienced working as a custodian as one of the most positive aspects about working at BU and she is excited about continuing her career at the University.
“The position itself is a real opportunity and will open a lot of doors for me with the experience I acquire here,” she said.
Melara is grateful that she is being recognized for her hard work, and now plans to pursue her master’s degree to make the most of the benefits the University offers.
“My words cannot describe how thankful I am to Boston University Facilities Management. BU has changed my future, and now thanks to BU I am living my American Dream.”