Q&A with Alonso Noble
As UC San Diego celebrates 50 years of achieving the extraordinary, Alonso Noble is marking his 25th year at the university. He started as a groundskeeper and worked his way up to assistant superintendent and waste diversion manager, and he also serves as the chair of the Staff Association. He has spent his career giving back to his colleagues, the university and the community, which is one of the many reasons he received the Exemplary Staff Employee of the Year Award in 2006. In this interview, he talks about his volunteer work, his involvement on campus and how it felt to be chosen as the staff speaker at the Founders' Day celebration in November.
What do you enjoy most about working at UC San Diego?
Noble: Most of all, I enjoy working with a highly diverse workforce that respects the differences that exist between people, recognizing the fact that everyone has a job to do, a role to play and even a story to tell. This creates a very rich fabric for our campus community. Against that backdrop, I know that what I do is valuable and contributes to the goals of my department, which ultimately supports those of the university. I enjoy being able to participate in decision-making processes that affect my work, and extend the same ability to those who report to me. I also enjoy being able to join various groups that share my interests, goals and beliefs. There is a group here for everyone; they are great avenues to meet people, participate in worthy causes and enjoy fellowships.
What did it mean to you to be the staff speaker at the Founders' Day event?
Noble: I consider it to be the highest point of my career thus far. To be invited to speak for the staff, knowing full well that there are many who are more deserving and better qualified, still takes my breath away whenever I think about it. My hope is that I did justice to my fellow employees. I wanted it to resonate with the thousands of people who serve this university, both day and night. I also think that by having a staff speaker, it was a clear message to staff of the prominent role that we play at this university and our value to the institution.
Why are you excited to be here during UC San Diego's 50th anniversary year?
Noble: I keep reminding myself how blessed I am to be in the right place at the right time. Fifty years is a milestone for UC San Diego, which is rich in accomplishments and fame that reach far beyond this country. I am very proud to be a part of a celebration of this magnitude and to have made my small contribution. It is a great occasion to take stock of our accomplishments as a university. It is also a time to reflect on the visions of those whose idealism produced such a great institution of higher learning. More importantly, it is a time to make a resolve to continue on the path of greatness that has been blazed.
Why did you want to get involved in the Staff Association?
Noble: I saw the Staff Association as a way to serve my fellow employees and be in a position to get involved more effectively in the affairs of staff. It is not that much different from the political process; you need to get involved if you want to count. It is the vehicle through which you can reach other segments of the university. It provides an effective base for staff communication with the administration, faculty and students by encouraging members to present their opinions on issues that affect the university community, and by serving in an advisory capacity to the administration these issues. I do not know of a better way to get involved than that.
How has volunteering been a part of your life?
Why is it important to you to be a part of Volunteer50?
Noble: Volunteering has been a part of my life since I was much younger. I rose through the ranks of the Boy Scouts to become the equivalent of an Eagle Scout in the United States. I had innumerable occasions to volunteer then and I've been volunteering ever since. Nothing is more rewarding than knowing that in simple, inexpensive, selfless ways, you can make a difference in someone else's life. There is no shortage of these opportunities. To be a part of Volunteer50 is to be a part of a concentrated effort to get people to do more for their campus and the bigger community. It is a call to turn our attention away from ourselves and the petty complaints that we have and instead recognize the sobering reality that we have so much to offer to worthy causes that benefit deserving people. It is a call to greatness without regard to the fanfare, the accolades and the rewards. It is history in the making. Years from now, those who will take our places will be talking about these noble and inspiring works we did as a community of caring people. I want to be a part of such a movement.
Favorite place at UC San Diego:
The beach at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Favorite place on Earth: Atop any high mountain.
Favorite way to volunteer:
Where recognition is not important, but service is.
Favorite way to spend a weekend:
In relaxation, visiting a Hospice and in worship, not necessarily in that order.
Working out in a gym and reading.
Favorite words to live by:
"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. — Arthur Ashe