In the beginning, Kailah (pronounced Kay-lah) Gonzalez ’12 wasn’t the least bit interested in attending Texas A&M and didn’t appreciate it when her parents insisted she at least visit the school. Happily, her attitude did a complete 180 the day she set foot on campus.
“I fell in love,” she admits. “I was here for one day, and my mind was made up: this was where I was going to school.”
Six years later, with both a bachelor’s and master’s in marketing, Kailah still isn’t ready to leave the place she describes as beautiful and fun, both busy enough and quiet enough to keep her happy. We recently caught up with Kailah in the Trigon—where she now works as administrative assistant to the Commandant—to find out more about one of the Division’s newest members.
Passback: So how long have you been working here, Kailah?
Kailah: I started at the Trigon at the beginning of February, so almost two months now.
Passback: And how’s it going so far?
Kailah: Great! I love the people who work here; everybody is friendly and helpful. I felt comfortable and welcome right away.
Passback: Good to hear! And the job itself? What, exactly, does the administrative assistant to the Commandant do?
Kailah: Well, I spend most of my time coordinating General Ramirez’s calendar—scheduling meetings, trips, etc. That involves quite a bit of e-mailing back and forth with a lot of people, trying to figure out times and places. The most challenging thing about the job is making sure you don’t drop the ball on anything. Schedule changes and e-mail requests come one right after the other, so it’s easy to lose track of an e-mail or forget to get back to someone about a meeting. You have to be diligent about checking things off, making sure you’ve finished.
Passback: Sounds like you have your hands full. What do you do to relax in your spare time?
Kailah: I love taking pictures, mostly of things that we usually don’t “see.” Take birds, for example. We usually don’t ever get to see, in real time, even a small fraction of the fluid motion of flying. I especially love getting shots of humming birds. They move so quickly; you don’t realize how much of their flight path we miss until you start taking pictures of them. I even have pictures of hummingbirds flying stomach-up.
I also enjoy writing, mostly poetry, because I have a hard time finishing long stories. I started a character novel in November for Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), but haven’t had time to finish it. I’d like to finish a novel.
Passback: Photographer, poet, novelist … obviously, you’re a very creative person! We see how you fulfill that side of you during your off hours, but what about your marketing degrees? Do you ever use that training?
Kailah: As a matter of fact, I do. When a friend of mine, Chris Findeisen, and his friend, Roberto Talmas, started a company called StudyOnBoard.com, he sked me to head up marketing for the company.
Passback: And what does the company do?
Kailah: It’s a free online study tool for students focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) that allows them to study in groups, remotely, by setting up a study room on the site. The study room has both a white board and an audio channel, so they can talk about problems, work them out, as if they were actually in a physical study environment—except they never have to leave their computers!
Our vision is to bring the study environment up to speed with the rest of the school experience, and make education more global and flexible. Currently, a lot of school is online—homework, reading, entire classes—but there’s no online study environment. Where do students who take online courses, students who may live in different states, study? We’re closing that gap.
Passback: And your job is to get the word out.
Kailah: Right. So if you’ve ridden on the Teas A&M buses lately, you might have seen our advertisement in some of the handles. I coordinated that. I manage social media, our campus reps who do the footwork talking with students and getting the word out. Pretty much anything that you can think a marketing person would do, I do.
Passback: Sounds like you’ve managed to strike a satisfying balance between your work life and your personal life.
Kailah: Well, I want to make sure I’m happy, making the right choices for myself. Living well and trying new things and cultivatin
g memorable experiences are important to me. A lot of people my age think, Hey, I’m only 25. I’ve got time. But, really, time starts flying by faster and faster, and eventually, you run out! I want to do as much as I can!
For Kailah, doing “as much as I can” also includes family BBQs and movies, hanging with Shiver, her toy poodle (“they are not as pretentious as people think they are … just a little less in your face”), and naming the occasional jumping spider that appears in her window. For your viewing pleasure, we’re including a couple samples of her photography and this link to StudyOnBoard.