Tribune Print Share Text

Title

Growing careers

Student scholars trace their journeys at Brooksby Village

Created date

March 15th, 2018
Sales Manager Gina Fernandez and Mike Warren, administrative assistant in resident life. Both began their careers as high school students.

Sales Manager Gina Fernandez and Mike Warren, administrative assistant in resident life. Both began their careers as high school students.

 

Gina Fernandez was a freshman at Peabody High School when her mother saw a notice in the newspaper advertising student wait staff opportunities at Brooksby Village, the

Erickson Living community in Peabody, Mass.

Fernandez applied and got the job. She worked as a student server at Brooksby throughout her high school years and was awarded a scholarship for higher education from Brooksby’s Scholars’ Fund when she graduated.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but my career at Brooksby was just getting started,” says Fernandez, who studied communications at Salem State University while continuing to work part-time in dining services at Brooksby.

After graduating from Salem State, Fernandez was hired full-time at Brooksby as the administrative assistant for dining services. In 2011, she was promoted to human resources coordinator. A year later, Fernandez moved over to the sales office, working as a sales associate. Currently, Fernandez is a sales manager, a position she’s held since 2013.

Developing her potential

“I’ve worked in a variety of departments at Brooksby,” says Fernandez. “Those opportunities allowed me to find what I love doing. In sales, every day is different. I’m honored to walk alongside our prospective residents as they discover all that Brooksby has to offer.”

In 2013, Fernandez was selected for the Erickson Living Future Leaders Program, a year-long training program designed to refine leadership skills among talented, motivated employees.

“I’m grateful for the ways my career has grown at Brooksby,” says Fernandez. “At the end of the day, it’s the people, both those who live here and those who work here, who make this such a great place to work.”

Discovering his passion

Like Fernandez, Mike Warren was a student at Peabody High School when he started working as a student server at Brooksby.

“A friend told me about the opportunity at Brooksby,” says Warren. “I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into.”

It didn’t take Warren long to realize how much he enjoyed working at the Peabody community.

“I like meeting new people,” he says. “It is fun to interact with another generation, and I also made a lot of friends among the wait staff—students from Danvers, Lynn, Salem, and Beverly— who I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise.”

Driven by his service experience at Brooksby, Warren took hospitality courses at North Shore Community College after high school.

“I was still working part-time at Brooksby while I was taking college classes,” says Warren. “One weekend a supervisor called and asked if I could fill in as a dishwasher. Then a few months later, they asked if I could help out in the kitchen, chopping vegetables and working the line in the evening.”

With guidance, Warren’s abilities and confidence as a chef grew, and by 2011, he was cooking full-time for Brooksby’s Overlook Restaurant.

“I loved the job,” says Warren. “For six months in a row, the Overlook was the top restaurant across all Erickson Living communities based on resident satisfaction scores. I was learning from some great chefs and was really proud of the work we were doing.”

Change of course

All that changed, however, one Thursday in May 2011.

“I couldn’t read the orders as they were coming in,” says Warren. “I thought maybe I needed glasses.”

After an emergency visit to an ophthalmologist, who referred Warren to a specialist in Boston, Warren was diagnosed with Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy [LHON], which causes a sudden, irreversible loss of central vision.

“I was a 21-year-old kid who couldn’t see,” says Warren. “It was scary.”

Family members learned of a clinical trial in Los Angeles. Warren was accepted into the trial, which is still ongoing, and flies out to California every six months for testing and treatment.

“I’m one of 12 people in the country getting medicine for LHON,” says Warren. “I know how fortunate I am. The medicine can’t replace damaged optic nerves, but it tries to strengthen the ones that are still working.”

The loss of vision, however, precipitated a job change.

“I couldn’t be in the kitchen anymore, not with limited vision,” says Warren. “Brooksby offered me the position of administrative assistant in resident life, and that’s where I’ve been ever since.”

Mr. Brooksby

In his new role, Warren’s outgoing manner has earned him the nickname “Mr. Brooksby.” Often, he’s one of the first staff members to greet new residents after they move in.

“I love welcoming new residents,” says Warren. “Every one of them has a story to tell.”

And while Warren’s journey took an unexpected turn, he feels fortunate that he’s found his niche at Brooksby.

“You won’t find this atmosphere anywhere else,” he says. “Every day is different. I love working with our residents and learning from them. It’s is a great place to be.”

Comments