PolyTrends Winter Spring 2014 12
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - PolyTrends Winter Spring 2014 12
20 PolyTrends | WINTER | SPRING | 2014
By Carly Owens
Jennifer Ramirez was on the verge of dropping out. It was the middle of
midterms, and the pressure in her family life was making her doubt her
future at Cal Poly Pomona. That’s when Reggie Keys and Sam Berry arrived.
It wasn’t anything outside the ordinary for the two custodians in
University Housing to stop by the office where Ramirez worked, but the
visit proved pivotal for the liberal arts student, who had set a goal of
becoming a teacher.
“I told them, ‘You know, I’m not having a good day,’ and Sam asked,
‘What do you mean you’re not having a good day?’ I explained what was
happening, and he told me, ‘Jennifer, think about this for a moment. Think
about how many kids are going to miss out if you don’t become a teacher.’
It was the most eye-opening thing. I realized I’d be a statistic. I realized
if I’m going to go do something, I need to work for it. That’s the one thing
Reggie and Sam always taught me.”
Keys and Berry, who work in the suites, are widely known among
students and staff for their friendly and caring nature, which is borne out in
their quiet support of higher education. Their goal is simple: Make students
as comfortable as possible while they are on campus. With this in mind, the
two go out of their way to build friendships.
More than a dozen years ago, a coworker invited the pair to join the
Black Faculty & Staff Association. Membership included making a donation
toward the group’s scholarship fund. Keys and Berry were happy to oblige,
opting for a payroll deduction of $5 per month.
“Whatever kind of money I can give that will help further education,
that’s fine with me,” Berry says.
Keys concurs. “With us being custodians, our funds were limited. But
like Sam said, we were willing to put forth that small amount in the hopes
that it may do some good. We weren’t doing it for any ‘stand out among the
workers’ thing. It was just something that needed to be done at the time.”
Chelsea Navarro, interim area coordinator for two of the suites
complexes, calls Keys and Berry the Dynamic Duo.
“Sam is a bit more of the witty, humorous one, and Reggie is just pure love,” she says.
“Almost every day I see Reggie, and he always says, ‘Beautiful day!’ and I reply, ‘Yes it is!’ and
he says, ‘Beautiful day for a beautiful lady.’ He just makes my day.
Keys, who has served the campus for 28 years, was on the hiring committee when
Berry came aboard. They clicked almost immediately.
“I saw him to be dedicated, but not so serious that he couldn’t have fun,” Keys says.
“Reggie showed me around campus my first day here,” Berry says. “That’s when our
That friendship extends beyond the campus, especially on fishing trips they take
together. Both are easy to laugh, and their camaraderie is hard to miss.
With their laid-back, friendly personalities, the two have created a sense of family and
community on campus. Both have families and children of their own, and they recognize that
for most student residents, this is their first experience living away from home.
“It’s important to the students to know there’s someone they can go to if they need
something,” Keys says. “They come in as kids and leave as educated adults.”
That road to adulthood can be rocky, but sometimes all a student needs to succeed is
a kind word or a smile, something small but significant. Keys and Berry show it’s often the
little things that count.
“Do what you can — just do something,” Berry says.
“Even if it’s volunteering, help out in any way possible,” Keys says. “Something
is better than nothing. If you have the time and whatever resources that you can, put
it toward someone’s education. It’s really a blessing, especially for those who need it,
especially in this economy.”
Longtime custodians REGGIE KEYS and
SAM BERRY take caring to another level
This is our opportunity.
College of Business Administration
Steps Up to Give
Faculty and staff are significant
stakeholders in any effort to advance
the university, which is why Cal Poly
Pomona has launched a campaign to
encourage and recognize their giving.
“It’s not so much the amount
someone gives, it’s that we encourage
a culture of giving,” says Dolores
Ybarra, director of the Annual Fund.
“Also, we want to recognize those
who have provided consistent support,
such as Reggie Keys and Sam Berry.
You might be surprised at how many
people want to make a difference.”
To see some of the faculty and
staff who have made supporting the
university a part of their lives, visit