By Lauren Herber, Editor-in-Chief
We’ve all been there—usually right before a project or paper is due. We’re stressed, we’re rushed—and then we realize that we’ve shown up 5 minutes before closing time, and our print job is going take at least 20 minutes. But not to worry, because the Xerox Center and its staff are there to help, even though it’s technically time for them to pack up shop and head home.
I first realized that Thunderbird’s Xerox Center is much more than just a print center last April. I was helping Jake Strickler and the rest of the Das Tor staff with our special project of the semester: Das Tor Through the Years. If you haven’t read a copy yet, Das Tor Through the Years is the special printed collection of Das Tor’s best articles, from its inception in 1969 through 2016. We wanted to have the project finished by the 70th anniversary celebration so that we could share Das Tor Through the Years with all of the alumni who were going to be on campus. The week leading up to the 70th, I was at the Xerox Center nearly every day, and usually almost in tears; we had launched this giant project with only a few weeks to get it done. But Sheila and Roger, who work at the Xerox Center, were with us every step of the way. We missed our deadline, but they worked after hours to help us get our project done. They made sure the final printed edition looked spectacular. They calmed me down every time I burst into the center pulling my hair and begging for more time. The project truly wouldn’t have been possible without them.
That’s just one example of the many ways that Sheila and the Xerox staff have gone above and beyond to help the students at Thunderbird in any way that they can. They’re a part of the Thunderbird family, and though students come and go, they have remained. “I’ve been here since 1997,” Sheila told me, reflecting on the years that have gone by. “When I started, we had 1600 full-time students on campus, and we were in this tiny little building by facilities. We eventually moved to the Coleman lounge, but it was still very busy. We had a lot of students coming in and out, and you had to do almost everything by hand.” Roger, who has been here at Thunderbird since 2004, remembered this as well. “The technology was old and difficult to work. But it was a hopping place—everybody had things to do. So many things have changed on campus since then, like the pool and the Tower building,” he said. Sheila laughed, adding: “We’d see students every couple of years with the goal of redoing the Tower building. They’d always start the project—raise all the money and everything—but then they would graduate and leave before they got to finish, so new students would come in and take over. We got to see every phase of the renovations and how everything has transformed.”
The Xerox staff have been a steadfast piece of the ever-changing Thunderbird community. They were here when student enrollment was at its peak, and they were here when student enrollment crashed after 9/11. They remember when the Dalai Lama, Condoleezza Rice, and Jerry Colangelo came to speak at Thunderbird. They’ve met and had personal relationships with thousands of students over the years, which is something that they treasure. “It’s always bittersweet whenever a class of T-birds leave,” said Sheila. “It’s always good to stay in touch with students after they’ve graduated. We see most of the students here regularly. Whenever graduation comes around, we always say that our T-birds are flying off.” Sheila and her colleagues spend so much time on campus that Thunderbird has become a big family for them. “Campus has always been a home away from home,” she shared with me. “It’s truly a family here. It’s so tightknit, and everybody knows everybody. We have met so many different students, professors, and staff members over the years.” They’ve also learned a lot, from the nuances of case studies to how to help students solve computer issues in other languages. “I’ve done all of the exec ed binders for the different professors, so it’s almost like I have a Thunderbird degree without ever having gotten an actual degree. Thunderbird gets so engrained into everything you do. It’s impossible not to learn. I’ve always had a positive experience here, the community has always treated us like family and taken care of us,” Sheila said.
And just as the Thunderbird community has taken care of the Xerox staff, the Xerox staff have taken care of us. They go above and beyond to help students, faculty, staff, and even alumni with all of their printing needs. “We try to make sure that everyone who comes through here leaves with a smile,” said Sheila. And they go beyond just printing: they also provide ideas and solutions to help you produce the best work possible. “We can help guide you to make your documents come to life so that they’re better than they originally were. We bring ideas to life,” said Sheila. “We’re all about solutions,” she continued, “finding solutions and making sure students leave happy. It’s more than just a copy center; it’s a one-on-one experience for us, and we value the relationships we build with the students. So we always try to think outside the box to get something done, instead of turning a student away or telling them we can’t accomplish what they’re asking.”
The students are truly at the center of the everything that Xerox does. “We’ve always kept our prices low so that students can have the convenience of printing on campus while still getting the best price. We care about how our pricing affects students, which is we haven’t raised our prices. We’ve always been 4 cents per page for black and white. We know our students are price sensitive,” Sheila told me. In addition to competitive pricing and the most helpful staff you could ask for, Xerox offers other benefits as well. For example, you can print posters for under $1 at Xerox, email your documents the night before and find them waiting for you in the morning, print course packs seamlessly, and add extra pizzazz to final projects for classes like FORAD and Organizational Consulting. “Over the years many things have changed, but our dedication to the students never has,” said Sheila. “We always love when the students come in. Even though you guys are usually panicking, we love partnering with you and keeping you calm. We’re all in this together.”
The love that the Xerox staff feels for the students on campus is mutual: almost every Thunderbird student has a story of a time that the Xerox staff went out of their way to help them. “Sheila’s amazing,” said Solomon Frank (MAGAM ’18). “She’s helped me through this whole process,” he said, referring to a personal project. “I feel like I’m in here almost every day. I’ve probably printed off an unbelievable amount of paper,” he said, laughing and shaking his head in exasperation. Sarthak Agrawal (MGM ’17) has also had positive experiences working with the Xerox staff. “I didn’t know who to talk to when I first got to Thunderbird, and I was aggressively looking for on-campus jobs. So I ended up asking Sheila, and she was so helpful. She took the initiative to send me opportunities. The staff here is so friendly and will always help you personally, even if the working shift has ended.” “I remember Sheila helped us a lot during Foundations,” said Faduma-Dhool Mohamed (MAGAM ’17). “She went out of her way to help out with the Thunder Crawl and to make the new students feel welcome. She was so helpful, and she always remembers everyone’s names, which is amazing to me. That’s pretty special. They’ve been here for so long—they know us. They know our deadlines, our schedules, and what the professors want.”
Bhavana Raina (MGM ’17) and Melissa Gaylord-Ratsimbazafy (MAGAM ’17) have relied on Xerox’s expertise for their most important Thunderbird projects. “[Sheila] adds a personal touch to everything,” said Bhavana. “I remember when we had to submit our report of Organizational Consulting—we had a deadline of 5 PM, and we were running around trying to get everything done. Sheila helped us with everything. She organized everything for us herself. I submitted the report 2 minutes to 5,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief. “For my final Organizational Consulting project, I was a mess,” agreed Melissa. “I was trying to get everything printed, I forgot to print front and back, I was confused with all the options…but they were super helpful and efficient. They helped me to understand all the services they offer, and they make sure that everything gets done in a timely manner. It’s very easy to use. They always communicate quickly and clearly. The people who work there are very committed to Thunderbird. They have your best interest at heart—they really want to help you and find solutions. It’s this commitment to us and understanding of us that makes them unique.” “They have a very personal relationship with the students,” added Alex Marino (MAGAM ’17). “They go above and beyond for the students and the offices all around campus. Everyone here is so busy, so to have someone that you can count on to help you out is a huge support.”
The Xerox staff goes out of their way to help students with personal projects, too. “Once I needed to print passport-sized photos,” said Bahar Heravy (MAGAM ’17), “and Xerox was the best option to get my photos printed at the best cost. I saved a lot of time, but beyond that, the staff were so nice, friendly, and helpful.” Allison Skabrat (MAGAM ’17) loves using the Xerox Center for her art projects. “The Xerox staff are so wonderful! They are always so down-to-earth, and they’ve printed posters for me super last minute. I love using that facility for my art—the colors always turn out great, and they are always so helpful,” she said.
The relationship between the Xerox staff and the students is beneficial and meaningful for both parties. “We hope to stay at Thunderbird for many years to come and to grow more with ASU,” said Sheila. “We’re always looking to grow and expand and do more work for the community that we love.” And as for us students: we don’t know where we’d be without Xerox. They’ve been an integral part of our student experience, and a key factor in the success of many of our projects. “We make magic look effortless,” said Sheila, “because people don’t always see the hoops we have to jump through to make everything happen.” We couldn’t agree more, Sheila, and for that we thank you. We’d be lost without you and the rest of the Xerox staff.