HSU offered Val Arizzi the chance to finish her degree and take a breather from the busy restaurant world.
While her life at HSU began by working in a busy university office while simultaneously finishing a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, this double workload didn't leave her dreaming of summer vacation. "After working in the deli it was a piece of cake," Val says.
For seven years, Val ran the Broadway Deli in the lobby of the Pierson Building Center. With a passion for cooking inspired by her mother, Val served up breakfasts, lunches and more to hungry patrons of the home renovation store. Ask any restaurateur and they'll tell you how much work running a successful eatery can be and Val is no exception. "I looked for ways to get into catering and other places to expand, but it became too much, so I shut down and went back to school," she says.
Val finished her degree in 1997 and jumped at an opportunity to take a full-time position in the records office. But it was her desire to have more interaction with students that brought her to the Geology Department.
"Students just keep you young; keep you energized," says Val.
Three years ago, Val decided to get involved with the changing climate on campus as HSU dealt with successive years of budget cuts. "I don't do helpless very well, so when it became obvious that there were ways staff could get involved to make HSU better for all of us, I wanted to do something." And that something was joining Staff Council, where she now serves as the group's co-chair.
In Staff Council, which strives to help Humboldt State achieve its academic missions through staff participation, Val has worked to make Humboldt more of a home for the hundreds of staff members who report to campus every day. One of those ways is by helping organize Staff Appreciation Day, an annual event that honors outstanding staff members from all departments. "I'm so happy with its success. So many people were there and it was a really good time," she says.
Back in the Geology Department Val's hard work is definitely appreciated. "She runs the whole place," says Professor Ken Aalto referring to Val's duties, which include scheduling classes, department communications, personnel paperwork and managing the budget. She's also involved with the Tsunami Hotline and the Earthquake Center, both of which provide updates on seismic conditions in Humboldt County and around the world.
Val makes it a point to attend her department's annual colloquium and brush up her geology skills. "The students love to see me attending a class," says Val, who describes herself as an "honorary geologist," a mantle bestowed upon her by the department's faculty.
When not keeping tabs on her office in Founders Hall, Val is busy in her garden. With an 11-month schedule, Val makes the most of her time off by taking her garden to soaring heights. She produces her own herbs, potatoes, garlic and even tomatoes. "You've got to find the right spot and we're lucky. Right by our garage we can grow all kinds of tomatoes ... as long as they're the local varieties," she says.