Illustration by Helena Warner

Our campus aides are constantly helping students get to their classes on time, delivering passes, and maintaining the order of campus. Diana Lauese, Ms. Dixon, and Rob Lee are some of the campus aides you may bump into while walking across M-A campus. These three kindly agreed to share their story of coming to this school, their daily routine, and what the M-A community means to them. 

Diana Lauese

Diana Lauese, 22, grew up in East Palo Alto and attended Sequoia High School. She graduated in 2017, just five years ago. Lauese was attracted to working at M-A because of its school environment and its family-oriented approach. Her mom referred her to the job, and Lauese noted how she and some of her aunts and uncles also work in the District, saying, “they’ve been here for years.” 

Even though it’s her first year at M-A, Lauese already feels connected to the students and staff. The family-oriented style of M-A is what makes Lauese love coming to work every morning. “The staff has really been helpful to me, and they take care of you here,” she said. “It’s something I didn’t experience in high school. Now that I’m pregnant, I love it. It’s something that’s easy for me, and I’d be here for a long time.” Because of her age, Lauese noticed how many students don’t even see her as an aide, but rather as a friend and mentor. “I like to give advice to

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some kids here that go to my church,” she said. She learns something new every day talking with familiar faces and connecting with students and staff. 

When Lauese saw how many of her coworkers knew students by name, she made a goal to do the same. “I just want to welcome the new students with open arms and make them feel at home,” she said. “Just like you guys welcomed me, so they can feel what I felt when I came to M-A.”

Ms. Dixon

While walking outside the E-wing, we ran into Ms. Dixon driving her golf cart around campus. Prior to working at M-A, she worked in corporate America. “My job forced me to fly out every Sunday. And I came back every Friday night. And I just needed to change. I wanted to just give back.” 

Dixon began helping kids at the Redwood Continuation School while still doing finance on the side. Her love for helping kids turned into the work she has been involved in since 2010. When asked to compare her past job to her current job, Dixon said the key difference “is the satisfaction, because I absolutely love kids. That’s why you always see me with a smile.”

The most rewarding part of her job is being able to help students and take part in changing their lives. Dixon said, “If you want to eradicate poverty, education is the key. And then you can pull yourself up, but make sure you have somebody along the way. So 

you go in each generation, you go further and further.”  She advised having gratitude for those who encourage us and helping someone else along the way. 

At the end of our interview, Dixon told us, “When you guys see me around here, make sure you come to say hello or tell me if you ever need anything.” Then she drives away to continue spreading her kindness to the students of M-A. 

Rob Lee

Every morning, campus aide Rob Lee grabs his radio and golf cart. He goes to his assigned area of campus and encourages kids to get to class on time. When he isn’t doing that, he delivers passes, picks up students to go to the office, helps clear campus, or assists students to make sure they are safe. 

Lee grew up in Santa Clara, attended Wilcox High School, and went on to study criminal justice in college. After working at an elementary middle school for some time, he felt ready for a change. He saw a a job opening at M-A, so he applied. This year is his fifth year working at M-A. Lee likes the diversity of the M-A community and his coworkers. 

Lee said that he was incredibly fortunate that M-A was able to provide him and other aides jobs during the pandemic to sustain themselves. “I think everyone was

trying to support each other no matter what, because we’re all in the same boat trying to get through it,” Lee said. “I think everyone enjoys being back in person, so I have high hopes for this year.” 

Lee said that seeing students grow from freshmen to seniors is both gratifying and difficult. “Creating relationships and bonds with the kids. You’re interacting with them for four years, and then sending them off.” At the same time, Lee said how gratifying it was to see students return to M-A in their college years to visit the school and campus. 

“It’s just fun interacting with people,” Lee said, “and helping the kids that are gonna be shaping our future.” 

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