“Balance—the balance among work, home, kids and community – that’s the biggest issue,” says Jacqueline Hamilton, Executive Assistant to Dean Susan Bryant in the School of Biological Sciences.
As chair of the Women’s Issues Group of UCI’s Academic and Professional Women (A&PW), Hamilton realized that balance is a major issue for women. As a member of the Staff Assembly’s Workplace Issues Committee, she became aware that it is a significant issue for university employees. As a single parent who juggles job, kids, school and community service on a daily basis, she knows the importance of balance in her own life.
Hamilton was seeking help with that balance when she began organizing brown bag seminars for the Women’s Issues Group.
“Women’s issues always have been very important to me,” she says. “But when I came to UCI five years ago, there were skills I needed to acquire, campus culture issues I needed to know about—how staff women got where they are, how they move up, how they balance kids and work. At the seminars, other people’s stories helped me. But organizing the talks also led me to expand into other areas.”
Soon Hamilton was Treasurer of A&PW, co-chair of Staff Assembly’s Mentorship Program and served on Staff Assembly’s Workplace Issues committee.
She also serves on the UCI Child Care Advisory Committee. “Affordable child care is always a problem,” she says. “At UCI, there are programs to help, but there are huge waiting lists, and it’s expensive. I want to help build funding. The child-care staff is so busy, maybe the committee could find a way to help find funding for higher salaries for the teachers, or new playground equipment, or more child-care slots.”
“I love serving in organizations,” she says. “It exposes me to opportunities outside the job, helps to meet people. And it makes me feel good to know I’m making a difference.”
That’s why, in addition to her job assisting the dean, Hamilton takes on tasks such as helping with the annual staff picnic, serving on a parent advisory group for her daughter Randi’s YMCA after-school program or coordinating a 20-mile hike to help her son Ryan’s Boy Scout troop earn badges.
Her job as point person for the dean is demanding – Hamilton organizes meetings, display cases and a considerable flow of information. It’s a “huge move,” she notes, from her first UCI job five years ago as an admitting clerk at UCI Medical Center. And while that first job was rewarding—”It allowed you to see immediately how you were helping people” – Hamilton is grateful for the chance to work for Bryant: “She’s very caring about people and about the School. She’s also a pioneer in women’s issues, and really challenges me to learn and grow.”
Hamilton is also growing and learning at Santiago Canyon College, where she’s a part-time student working toward her A.A. degree.
On weekends, Hamilton is a self-described “biker wannabe.” With boyfriend Sergeant John Luke of UCI’s Police Department, she hops aboard a motorcycle for a ride through the canyons and out to Ontario Airport for breakfast.
Then it’s back to jobs and kids and classes and community service. It’s all part of the balance.