Have You Met… Gabriela?

Have you met Gabriela Mesta Kim, Program Assistant in the Student Success Centre? Spend the next two minutes getting to know her a little…

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Have you met Gabriela Mesta Kim, Program Assistant in the Student Success Centre? Spend the next two minutes getting to know her a little better.

Where is your favourite place on campus?

I gotta’ say the Old Arts Building and the Bruce Peel [Special Collections] Library. It’s a place that not a lot of people know about and it’s kind of magical. It’s cool because it’s almost undiscovered. Everybody always says “the Harry Potter Library” and the study room, but it’s like, “no, people — you’ve got to go with the Chambers of Secrets!” — which is the Bruce Peel Library. I always hope that I’m going to find something cool and unexpected there. Discover something new.

And the Old Arts Building — I love it in the Fall. Coming from Mexico, we pretty much only have one season, so I fall in love with [Old Arts] when it’s covered in all the Fall colours.

Tablet or paper?

Paper. I’ve tried to transition to a tablet, but failed miserably. I’m too much of a list person, who scribbles, and writes reminders, and uses post-its. And, I like to doodle — it’s how my brain works, so I definitely need to write things down. With a tablet, there’s too many options — too much distraction.

Name one thing you’ve brought to work from home.

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This is the first time that I’ve gotten an actual office, and I haven’t transitioned to being in here full time because I’m covering the front desk right now, so I haven’t brought much yet. I just bought this [points to her “smile” statue] that I really liked. I want to bring pictures — coffee mugs definitely. And, this “smile,” because it just makes me smile. Also, when I was in the Cortona program I sent a postcard back to the office, and they saved it, and now I still have it.

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And then there’s this guy that I just bought yesterday — just four bucks! I thought it was so cool because it reminds me of Wreck it Ralph and I thought it was funny.

What is the one thing you can’t live without?

That question is kind of like “what do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s hard! I don’t think I can name one thing. Definitely food, travelling — I like to travel a lot… and my supervisor would agree with that [laughs]. And family. Food, because I like trying new things — and the people in the office can confirm that I’m always talking about food. For travelling, I love discovering new places and feeling kind of lost. It’s the unexpected and undiscovered. And family because I like to think that everybody likes they’re family and friends if they make you feel good. So, I can’t name just one thing. Throw Netflix in there maybe too.

If you won airfare to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Don’t ask me that — that’s the hardest! There are too many places that I’d like to visit. So you know what, I’m going to go with, Asia. Anywhere in Asia. It is one of the overall continents that I haven’t visited — I’ve mostly focused on Europe. So my next trip, I’d like it to be in Asia — maybe Korea, where I’d like to go because of my roots. And, I love Korean food. See — food — everything comes back to food. And China, Thailand, the Philippines — so anywhere over there. Just a tour around Asia.

You can invite anyone — alive or dead, real or fictional — to dinner. Who would it be?

Someone funny, like Ellen DeGeneres. Or Obama. Salvador Dali — I think that would be my top guy. He was just the most random and really funny. I’ve seen him in interviews and thought he was just an interesting guy. Family wise though, I’d like to talk to my grandmother. It would be fun to have a dinner with all of them. I would love to do that — mix them all up and see what kind of interesting conversations come out.

If you could switch jobs with someone else on campus for a week, what would you do?

Maybe someone in the Office of Advancement would be interesting. Or, I think it would be cool to be an international recruiter. Or, I’ve always been interested in finance, so maybe the finance department. I like accounting for things.

What does “uplifting the whole people” mean to you?

When I hear it, I think of the quote from Alberta Einstein: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I always relate it to the idea that everyone brings something into the conversation, and everyone should be accounted for. And that’s what I think makes the [university] community interesting — having different points of view. I find that’s one of the things that the university does really well; it has a lot of people from different backgrounds and different experiences.

If you could solve any problem in the world, what would it be?

Education. If you educate people and can give them access to resources — it’s kind of along the lines of the “teach someone to fish, not just give them the fish.” I think that if we educate people, they can be more aware of the impact of their decisions.

What 3 words best describe your U of A experience?

Challenging. Enriching. Adventure.

Challenging, because it was not easy coming here as a first year international student — I didn’t even really know where Edmonton was, I just thought it looked pretty in pictures — I was eighteen year’s old, come on [laughs]. Being here as a student, I learned to manage my time between work and school, and it was hard being away from family, away from home — which altogether was very enriching. And it was an adventure; I didn’t know what to expect. If you had told me then that I would be working at the university I’d have said “I don’t think so,” and now, here I am. If you would have told me that I would have gone abroad — I don’t think it would have happened if I hadn’t been here.

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U of A graduate in Economics and International Studies. Spreadsheet and Tiny House lover.

Aspiring entrepreneur and food connoisseur. Can problem solve and organize almost anything.
You’re not so average wanderlust-hearted Mexican who made Canada a second home. Gabriela is also the Program Assistant for the U of A’s Student Success Centre.