It’s a family affair
Parents and offspring enjoy benefits of working together at Berkeley

By D. Lyn Hunter, Public Affairs

24 October 2001 | Among the thousands of talented Berkeley staff are a handful who share a unique connection: they have siblings, parents or offspring who also work on campus. Following are the stories of three such families.

Veronica Estropia, left, is joined by her brother, Danuel, and mother, Lillian. Noah Berger photo

Lillian, Veronica and Danuel Estropia
Throughout their childhoods, Danuel and Veronica Estropia came to campus to visit their mother, an administrative assistant in the Loans and Receivables Office. She often gave them tasks to perform, such as filing, to give them a taste of work life.

The experience seems to have had a positive effect on them. Years later, both joined their mother, Lillian, as campus employees.

“I was so familiar with the campus from such an early age, it just seems very natural to work here,” said Danuel, fundraising stewardship manager for the College of Engineering, of why he followed in his mother’s footsteps. “I tried working at other places, like the Financial District, but they didn’t fit my style.”

Veronica, a database manager at the Haas School of Business, saw how the stability and benefits of her mother’s job helped their family. When she got married and started having children of her own, Veronica wanted to give her family the same kind of support.

Being together on campus — Lillian in Universty Hall, Danuel in McLaughlin Hall and Veronica up at Haas — has many advantages, the Estropias said.

Because they all work in finance-related fields, they sometimes call each other for advice. Veronica and Danuel, both Oakland residents, carpool together. And mother, son and daughter often meet for lunch to talk about work and family life.

“It’s a great time for us to visit and catch up on what’s going on in each of our lives,” said Lillian. “And it’s so convenient since we’re all here.”

“If I need help with childcare or need a ride, I always have my mom or brother to fall back on,” said Veronica, who is currently expecting another child. “It gives me an extra sense of security.”

The Estropia clan on campus extends beyond Lillian, Danuel and Veronica — there are also cousins, nieces and inlaws who work at Berkeley.

Commitment to the university seems to be an Estropia family trait: Lillian is coming up on her 27th year in Loans and Receivables; Danuel celebrates 10 years on campus this fall; Veronica is beginning year number seven.

“I’m a lifer,” said Danuel. “I was almost lured by the dot-com rush a couple years back, but I like it here. I’ll be here for a while.”
Diane Hinkly, left, and her daughter, Brenna, both work for the School of Public Health. Noah Berger photo

Diane and Brenna Hinkly
Diane Hinkly knew her 23-year-old daughter Brenna was miserable at her former job at a pet supply company but felt cautious about mentioning an open position in the School of Public Health, where she worked.

“We are very close, but I also wanted her to feel independent,” said Diane, manager of the school’s epidemiology division. “I was concerned I might over-influence her.”

Brenna had similar concerns.“She likes to protect me,” Brenna said of her mother. “I wanted to make sure it was a job where I had room to make my own mistakes, without her jumping in to save me.

Their fears were quickly assuaged.

Since taking the job as an administrative assistant in the school’s facilities management unit in early 2000, Brenna has excelled on the job, and done it all on her own.

Diane is proud of what Brenna, 24, has accomplished — handling front-desk reception for a bustling customer service center — and she delights in seeing her daughter grow professionally.

“I can view her not just as a daughter, but as a working adult,” said Diane. “Most parents aren’t given this vantage point with their children.”

They get together almost daily for lunch. Brenna likes to escape the busy climate of her office for a bite to eat in her mom’s more quiet environs.

“A professor I work with said she likes watching us interact and admires our relationship,” said Diane. “She said she hopes that when her young daughter grows up, they have the same kind of close connection.”
Shirley Price, left, is a role model for her daughter, Cyndi Dunn. Noah Berger photo

Cyndi Dunn and Shirley Price
During her 17 years on campus, Shirley Price, payroll manager for the Electronics Research Lab in Cory Hall, has earned a reputation for being hardworking, knowledgeable and courteous — traits for which her daughter Cyndi would like to be known as well.

“I’ve tried to follow in her footsteps,” said Cyndi, who’s worked on campus for two years as a project assistant for the Labor Occupational Health Program. “She’s leading a good path for me.”

Cyndi was determined not to use her mom’s help in getting a job on campus. After applying for jobs for nearly 10 years, she finally landed a position.

“She’s made such progress all on her own,” said Cyndi, whose mom was a single parent. “I want to be a success story just like her.”

Her independent streak notwithstanding, Cyndi knows she can learn a lot from her mother’s institutional memory, which reaches back nearly two decades.

“I give her tips on how to navigate Berkeley’s bureaucracy, what kind of situations to avoid and how to approach problems,” said Shirley. “I’ve also told her that the key to getting things done is being respectful and considerate toward others. And she’s doing well at this.“

Much of this educational exchange takes place during their daily commute to and from campus with Cyndi’s three-year-old daughter.

“I’ll have a work-related question for mom on the way home,” said Cyndi, “and by the next morning, I’m able to implement what she’s told me.”

Shirley hopes all this talk of the campus will rub off on her young granddaughter. “I’m thinking that maybe she’ll want to attend Berkeley when she grows up. And who knows, she may be the next generation to work here.”




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