We are all well-accustomed to the presence of Public Safety officers on our campus. Not many students, though, know the story behind these familiar faces in uniform. Just like us, they are all here for a reason, filled with passion and love for the Claremont McKenna College community. After spending a few hours with our PSOs filled with subtle jokes, interesting stories and endless laughter, I have come to know our officers for their quirks, their hobbies and, to put it very dramatically, their true selves. Read on to get to know the talented, motivated and supportive officers and delve into their world beyond CMC!
ROMEO ALEXANDER PEREZ
“I am the baby of the group,” shared the cheeky and charismatic Romeo Alexander Perez.
Born and raised in L.A., Perez is continuing his family tradition of military service. Choosing this path was hard, but through his work at CMC, Perez wishes to experience the college life that he never had. “I want to make a presence here, form connections with students that last, and so far, everything is off to a promising start,” Perez shared with a wide smile when asked what motivates him to be at CMC. Brian Weir attests to Perez’s ability to achieve this goal, given his approachable, caring and intentional approach to safety and wellbeing. When asked what the most challenging aspect
of this job is, Perez shared, “It is probably getting students to realize that public safety isn’t here to punish them. I am here to help students get through school in a safe, yet fun manner.” So far, Perez has only had rewarding conversations with students about their lives, goals and aspirations. He is happy to talk with students about anything and everything, and is always up for a good debate. View Perez as the elder-brother you don’t have. Give him a high-five in passing or even stop and say what’s up. I strongly attest Perez’s words of wisdom, “I’m hip, I’m cool, I’m chill!”
Often described as a ‘social chameleon’, Rathana “Thana” Kry can hold a conversation with anyone. Born and raised in Cambodia Town, Long Beach, Thana grew up in a multicultural hotpot. There is never a dull moment in her life because she is surrounded by people from various cultural backgrounds, as well as constantly being exposed to new traditions, festivals and food. Her adaptability is evident given the variety of security roles she has held in the past. Ranging from customer-service security in shopping strips, low-rise and high-rise buildings, to urgent security dispatch, Thana has done it all. “These diverse positions contribute to my ability to act quick, communicate and adjust to different environments with ease,” Thana said.
Much to our good fortune, Thana’s love for an educational environment like CMC brings her here. She believes her innate ability to adapt to different situations, as well as her dynamic past experiences will positively contribute to our safety and security. “Every time we get a new call, we do not know what we are getting into, and that is exciting. The trick is to trust in your teammates and be confident in your ability to deal with the problem,” shared Thana with a determined and fulfilled smile. When she isn’t busy being CMC’s superwoman, Thana loves talking about the beautiful scenery in Claremont. She strongly believes that “the team members complete each other and complement each other really well. Everyone laughs, jokes about things but also corrects each other when needed.”
Originally from Compton, Butch Tropez has now been in Rialto for over 31 years. A retired police officer, Tropez has seen the good and the bad in the field of security. Thus, the serene and scenic Claremont is the ideal new work environment for Tropez. Given his love for the outdoors and fishing, it only helps that there are rabbits and squirrels roaming about while he works. Beyond the natural beauty, Tropez’s desire to work in a college setting in his home state, brings him here. “I love the people at CMC, the staff and the students,” Tropez told The Forum. “Being able to meet an eclectic group of individuals and learn what they’re doing in there time at CMC and after it, is very rewarding.”
While Tropez loves to listen, he is also willing to share. His great-grandparents were plantation workers. A year ago, he got the chance to visit South Carolina and walk the same grounds that his ancestors were once enslaved on. “The entire experience was extremely moving for me. We all have a history, and I am more than willing to talk about mine,” shared Tropez. Tropez’s love for Claremont and its people reflects in his nurturing, vulnerable and open mindset to life, and he cannot wait to share that with the rest of our community.
On a random night in 1990, Elvis Morales met his wife at a gas station. Two years later, they got married. Twenty years down the line, “she’s still here,” Morales chuckled. Born in Tijuana and raised in San Diego. Morales served in the marines for six years. Public safety at CMC is his first security job and coming into it, he shares that he didn’t know what to expect. “Growing up in the area, I knew of Claremont and the CMC community, and I am extremely excited to finally be here. While I was nervous, the experience has been nothing but rewarding,” Morales said.
Morales is honest and critically reflective, which I could gauge when he spoke about his challenges so far. “Learning everything required for the job and adapting to be all-encompassing towards the diverse student body takes getting used to,” shared Morales. Morales’ adaptation process appears to be one of growth and, in turn, reward. “I have seen a positive difference in the way public safety is viewed on campus and built relationships with students along the way,” Morales said.
ROBERT A. GONZALES JR.
“The staff, the students, (and) the vibrant atmosphere” bring Robert A. Gonzales Jr. from Rancho Cucamonga, to the Claremont community. His motivation to be a part of the CMC community is to support campus safety and show his dedication to everyone who is a part of it. “My favorite interactions are always when a student flags me down for an escort when its cold or raining outside,” Gonzales remarked of his student interactions so far.
For someone with thirteen years of experience in security, the job has not proved too challenging so far. It is “all a day’s work and I’m enjoying it,” Gonzales said. Gonzales’ goal is to be there when needed, and actively contribute to any situation he can. “I want to apply my past experience with medical emergencies and other urgent security cases to CMC and be a supporting figure,” Gonzales affirmed with conviction. Besides his professional role, Gonzales wants to be your friend: “Come talk to me about anything and everything, ranging from how your day is going, to sports and current affairs! I am always willing.”
The presence of enhanced security and public safety officers has naturally brought some confusion and questions with it. Some students were dissatisfied with this presence and did not understand it. The best way to bridge that gap is to get to know the officers and their intentions. At the end of the day, the team is here to help students enjoy their time at CMC safely. The goal is to make our community the safest space possible, and such a goal cannot be met without the collaboration of students and the team.
So what are you waiting for? Step out and get to know who these new, friendly faces really are. You’d be surprised at how much you may have in common. Feel free to talk to them in passing, or reach out to Brian Weir at DOS if you have questions.