Cheryl Bentham works in the Fermilab Housing Office. Photo: Reidar Hahn
What is your job at Fermilab like?
It’s varied. Today I’ve taken people’s housing payments, and I’ve helped them get a bicycle to use while they’re staying here. I work with the budgets for the Housing Office, and I handle the maintenance of all of our buildings. We have 92 dorm rooms and 64 houses and apartments on site, and we manage all of the maintenance, from putting on a new roof to cleaning the carpet to furnishing it—down to the pots and pans. It’s very different from day to day, and that’s what’s so enjoyable.
How did you get involved with working here?
I’ve been here for 34 years. My father worked here, so I came here while I was still in high school and got put in the Housing Office. I decided I just really enjoyed dealing with the people and kept coming back until after I was done with college. Then I came here permanently.
What do you like so much about being here?
The people, by far. I enjoy the people I work with—they’re a great group of people—but it’s the users. I give them so much credit for coming here from other parts of the world and leaving their families behind, their cultures, their languages—everything that’s familiar—to come here and delve into physics. And I learn so much from them. They are so willing and so open to sharing about their lives, what it’s like for them back home, what kind of food they eat, their languages, their religions and all of it. And they’re just great people. It’s not a job. It really isn’t.
What is the best part of your job?
I like that every day here is different. I also enjoy the campus atmosphere, talented personnel, state-of-the-art equipment and enormous resources to build almost any machine that the experimenters here can dream of.
What’s one thing you like to do when you’re not at work?
I love gardening and reading. I’m also involved in a ministry that helps people that are going through crisis. It’s lay counseling. It is through my church, and we went through training. Then you meet one-on-one with a person for about an hour a week for as long as they need while they’re going through something. It could be a divorce, could be a death in the family, they could be ill, trouble with a teenaged child, any of those things. And that’s very rewarding also. I really enjoy the opportunity that people give you to be part of something really so difficult in their lives and that they would trust you enough to expose themselves and really open up.
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