Books. Advice. Commencement tassels. White coat labels. A hug.
Chris Kovacich (pronounced Ka VAH chick), supervisor of the NEOMED bookstore, The NOOK, offers students and staff all of those things, not to mention NEOMED swag and apparel. Eventually, everyone seems to get to know Chris, with her friendly personality and uncanny ability to remember names. We sat down with her to learn more about her role at NEOMED.
How did you become supervisor of the bookstore?
I started in December of 2007 as a part-time clerk. I really enjoyed the clerical part of taking care of the store, stocking the store, waiting on customers and so forth. When the person before me retired, I applied for it. I could never just sit in an office. I am happy at my job because I can interact with everybody.
You are often the first face students see when they come to campus to buy their books, even before they start school. Can you describe your relationship with them?
The students seem like my children, because I have children their age. Once they get to know me and are comfortable with me, they will come in and ask for advice. The same goes for staff, who feel comfortable talking to me. People come in to tell me good news and bad news. I have laughed and cried with them.
Do you talk with parents, too?
I do. I see a lot of the parents because they will come in with their kids, especially the first-year students. Not too long ago, a mother came in with her daughter and we were talking as I was helping them look for books. I explained what books will benefit her more than others because I try not to sell a book that the student is not going to use. The mother that was in here was explaining how the campus looked really nice, but she was nervous about leaving her daughter here. As we continued to talk, I explained to her that NEOMED is a wonderful place that is very safe. When she left, she said she felt better knowing I was here. I have told many parents, “Don’t you worry. I’ll watch out for them.” If students have a moment when they need to talk, they can come in here. I’ll talk to them. If they need a hug, I will give them a hug. If they need positive reassurance, I will give them that. I want people to be happy and feel good.
I understand that your duties take you outside the bookstore, too.
I am the chair and spokesperson for NEOMED’s Blue Fund. I speak from my heart when I talk about the Blue Fund, because I believe in what the Blue Fund does to support our students through scholarships. That is why I also contribute; it’s so important.
I also serve on two committees: White Coat and commencement. For White Coat and commencement, I receive, order, label and prepare all the white coats and regalia, including robes, hoods, tams and tassels. On commencement day, I’m set up backstage with all of the regalia at E.J. Thomas Hall.
What do you enjoy about participating in these ceremonies?
One of the best things I do at commencement is give students high fives. It is awesome! I just high five them because now I have seen them all go from start to finish. I am the last one they see because the students have to return their rented regalia before they leave E.J. Thomas Hall. I feel like they are my kids. Some of them even call me their second mom. It’s a lot of fun!