Vera McGillivray– Telephone Operator

Brandon Hensley

Vera McGillivray is nothing if not honest. “Thirty years of service, and old age, and I’m tired,” she said, when asked why she is retiring from Glendale College this year.

McGillivray has rested since April in her Pasadena home after suffering arm and leg injuries last year after slipping and falling while with her friends. But she was determined to at least enjoy her 62nd birthday, which was on Friday. “My retirement is my gift to myself,” she said.

Serving the school since 1978, McGillivray has seen her share of change as she has worked in admissions and as the telephone operator, where she was regularly called “the voice of Glendale College.”

“[GCC] has changed tremendously since I started in 1978. It was a very small place,” she said, “but from day one there’s always been parking problems.”

She recalled what it was like working the phones back then. “When I first started at the college, it was one of those old systems where you have a cord, cords boards. They’re old fashioned.

“I had to answer ‘Glendale Community College’ at every phone call…and when I first started I used to have to give everybody an outside line. You could not dial 9 [before dialing the number].”

McGillivray said the college was more service oriented toward students earlier in her career, and as technology improved, her work load lessened, thanks to voice mail. The new system in place has had her answering calls from a computer. Safe to say, things have been a tad easier in recent years.

What McGillivray is most proud of in her time at Glendale is the Vera McGillivray scholarship, set up by former Dean Walter J. Smith in honor of her dedicated service. GCC’s Web site says the scholarship is “awarded annually to a continuing student involved in community service and volunteerism.”

“Every year I ask a group of students to read their letters and grades and everything. Mostly I want service-oriented students,” she said of the scholarship.

McGillivray made it a point to recognize the students. “I have made so many close personal relationships there…I’ve met so many wonderful students because I have a lot of student workers working for me.”

Instead of riding off into the sunset, McGillivray will soon spend retirement in tropical paradise by moving to Hawaii in a little over a year. Not a bad way to reward yourself after 30 years of a job well done.