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Cashier sings praises of education, work at Mills

It was pay day, and while two work-study students were asking for ID’s and signatures and handing out pay checks in Sage Hall, Claudia Abadia, the cashier, was supervising them and working at her computer as the line of people got gradually longer.

“It’s like a big rush and then it’s dead,” said Abadia “I couldn’t do my job without the help of work-study students.”

Those who don’t know Abadia personally only see a person from the waist- up from behind the counter, a young Latin woman with brown eyes, shoulder-length brown hair and black oval-shaped glasses. They also see her as an authority figure with a lot of information and having the power to give them an essential part of their survival, their hard-earned money from two weeks worth of work.

Abadia, a New York native, whose parents are originally from Guatemala, has lived in San Leandro since she was 11 years old. After graduating from Arroyo high school in 1991, she went to Chabot College and then earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from UC Santa Cruz. While at Santa Cruz, she worked as a math tutor, drop-in tutor and TA for statistics classes.

“She was always into school and liked studying,” said Abadia’s mother, Argentina.

After graduating from college in 1997, Abadia had two part-time jobs for three years, which included a stint as a bankteller and a coordinator of a homework program for the City of San Leandro.

Later, Abadia decided she wanted one full-time job and applied for a position with the Controller’s Office at Mills. She had a lot of banking experience and wanted to take advantage of the school’s tuition remission program, a program where staff can take one class a semester for free.

Since 2000, she has been an accounting assistant/cashier. She said that her job, which includes the receiving and posting of student payments and entering of transactions, is not as easy as some might think.

“I can’t train you to do that in an hour,” said Abadia.

However, she enjoys being at Mills.

“Working in a college environment is fun,” she said. “You deal with young people and you can go to cultural events. You won’t have that at another work environment. It’s nice because I’ve gotten to know students. It’s not all business.”

In addition to working full time, Abadia is currently working toward a second bachelor’s degree in math through the tuition remission program. She estimates that by enrolling in one class per semester, it would take seven years to graduate.

“My dream would be to get an MA in math and teach at a community college,” she said

When she is not at work or in class, Abadia enjoys reading, being with family and friends, going to the gym and singing at her baptist church.

Theresa Sanchez, one of Abadia’s friends from church, said Abadia is a great and strong soprano and sometimes performs solos on Sunday mornings. Abadia said she has performed in church since she was 15 years old. “The lord has given her a great talent,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez said that in addition to being a good singer, Abadia is a great friend who has a good heart and goes out of her way to do anything for anyone.

Back at Mills, Abadia’s co-workers echo Sanchez’s sentiments.

“We [Abadia and I] have a professional and fun relationship and we get a lot done,” said Eva Munoz of Accounts Payable.