Coffee Chat with Marichal Moranda, Project Coordinator

Marichal MorandaAs part of our Coffee Chat series, a Capstone employee will be interviewed each month and featured in our monthly newsletter, The Erudite. For the February issue, the editors of The Erudite sat down with Marichal Moranda.

Marichal joined Capstone in 2017 as Project Coordinator for the Capstone Team as we launched into the predevelopment stage of the Student Housing West P3 at University of California Santa Cruz. Based out of Santa Cruz, CA and a UC Santa Cruz graduate, Marichal offers a welcomed perspective to what is a very complex project and campus environment. The pandemic has impacted her typical day-to-day activities greatly, and she longs for the days when she and her family can travel again and attend a San Francisco Giants baseball game.

Marichal Moranda, Project Coordinator

University of California Santa Cruz, BA, Sociology, 2010

Where are you from originally? I’m from Merced, CA, which is in the central valley, about 2 ½ hours from Santa Cruz. It’s a very agricultural community – I would say most of the economy is based on agriculture. Just as I was going to college they were opening the new UC campus there in Merced. For recruitment, the campus targeted a lot of the local high school students to go to the new campus. I thought about it, but I wanted to live away from home.

Can you tell me about your higher ed experience? I went to UC Santa Cruz in California and went straight out of high school. My goal was to go to a 4-year school, so I applied to quite a few of the UCs and I liked that Santa Cruz was just far away enough from home, but not too far and I always wanted to live near the coast.

Did you live on-campus?  Yes, UC Santa Cruz has a first-year live on requirement, so I lived on-campus my first year. UCSC is really unique in both its lay out and its setting. It has 10 different residential colleges that all have their own specialty / affiliation. So when you apply you can request a certain college to be affiliated with which also means all of the housing types are different. Some of the housing options are newer, others are a lot older, built in the 1960’s or 70’s.

I chose College 10 which was where some of the newer residence halls and apartments were located. When I toured the campus I liked that the housing was a little newer, the location and its proximity to the book store, dining hall, and my classes at the time. Are the colleges associated with any themes or specialties?  Yes, College 10 is affiliated with social justice, so any of our core classes, or writing classes, were based on the theme of social justice and community, which was my focus. Other residential colleges are affiliated with themes such as art (like in Kresge they have murals everywhere), music, business, etc. You do not have to be associated with a residential college based on your particular major/ interest but there are definite communities within each college.

What was your dorm like? They were traditional dorm buildings, double and triple occupancy – but I was lucky to just have 2 people in my room.  It was a 4-story building with lounge areas on each floor. ALL residents on a floor shared a bathroom – so it was co-ed! I must have signed a waiver telling me about the co-ed bathroom when I enrolled but I did not remember it, so I was surprised when I moved in to find the coed community bathroom. There were probably 25-30 students that shared the bathroom. It had 2 sides for entrances, but it was all a shared room, with individual changing, toilet and showering areas.

After my first year, I moved into a house near campus. It was a 3-4 bedroom house and there were 6 of us living in the house. Santa Cruz is unique in that they don’t have a ton of dedicated student housing like a lot of college towns offer and the Santa Cruz area is really expensive. So it’s interesting to see where students live when they are not living on campus. The house was definitely a run-down student rental. But it was in a great location near the campus. I could’ve walked to campus technically, but the campus is located atop a big hill, so I actually took the bus often; UCSC has a good bus system.

Did you work during college? What job did you have? I didn’t work very much during my first couple of years during college, but I did get a job in the dining hall when I lived on campus. They were really flexible with scheduling and would work with my hours and it gave me some extra spending cash.

Do you keep in touch with your college roommates? I keep in touch with most of my college roommates. We get together for now what always seems like weddings and baby showers. We’re all kind of spread out now between California, Oregon and Washington for the most part. Do you find that most of the folks that you went to school with have stayed in the Santa Cruz / Greater Bay area or have they left? I would say it’s probably 50/50 who stay and leave. Half of my college friends have stayed in Santa Cruz and live close by in the San Jose and Silicon Valley and others who were from Southern California, moved back to their hometowns after college.

Is there a podcast that you are you listening to right now or book that you are reading? I started David Chang’s book, “Eat a Peach”. I’ve watched his Netflix TV show, “Ugly Delicious”, and have always followed him as a chef and business owner and I like his sense of humor. The book talks about his restaurants and the challenges and adversity he has faced personally and professionally.

Before working at Capstone, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had? I did marketing / sales for a woman’s footwear company from 2013-2015. It was a woman-owned company, local to the Aptos / Santa Cruz area. The company started very small, but when I joined it, it was growing – we secured accounts with Nordstrom and Anthropology. It was a learning experience and fun to work in the fashion / shoe industry. It’s an interesting industry, very fast paced and competitive. There were only 5 of us in the company, so we were our own everything – marketing, photography, social media, web; we wore a lot of hats. It was a lot of fun and work – traveling, setting up, and carrying all of the suitcases to and from tradeshows!  Did you get free sample shoes to take home? I did actually. All of their shoes are made in Brazil, real leather and are pretty high-end. I was able to collect quite a few sample pairs.

What do you do in your free time? For the past 10 years I‘ve taken up hot Pilates / hot yoga, which is yoga that is practiced in a heated room set to about 102 degrees. It starts off a little daunting, almost suffocating, but once you get into it it’s very detoxing and very rewarding. I look forward to getting into that again once things reopen. During the pandemic we’ve taken up a lot more outdoor activities, going hiking, jogging, etc. in the redwood forest or by the beach. I love to travel and I look forward to being able to do that again. We have family up in Seattle that we haven’t been able to see for awhile, so that will probably be one of the first trips that we make.

Are you a part of any organizations? I am fortunate to be a part of the Migori- Maasai African Medical Mission of Merced. Our family friend has been leading it for over 20 years now. The organization leads a 3 week long medical mission trip traveling every other year to various villages in Africa. Doctors and nurses volunteer with the organization and they bring supplies and medicine to the villages. A lot of it is preventative medicine and many of the villagers have never seen a doctor. These are really remote villages, where it takes 2+ hours to get to them. I went in 2018 and hopefully, one day I can go again.

What’s something most people don’t know about you? A few years after I graduated with my undergrad degree, I took the LSAT and started law school in Monterey, Ca. I knew it would be a huge commitment, but I always thought I would be a district attorney like my dad.  Ultimately, I knew it was not the right fit and I ended up switching career paths.

What do you enjoy most about working on college campuses? All campuses work so differently and there are a variety of challenges for each, especially with battling tight student housing rental markets. With UC Santa Cruz being the first project that I got involved with since I started at Capstone, it has been nostalgic to be a part of a project for a campus that I attended. As a student you don’t necessarily see how unique a campus really is until you are on the other side and are exposed to tons of other campuses. UC Santa Cruz is tucked into the redwoods and has views of the Pacific Ocean. Meetings with the campus, students and project stakeholders have brought a new perspective for me than what I may have had when I was a student. Housing is such a big part of the college experience and being able to provide housing for the students, especially in the Santa Cruz area where I know, personally, how housing is a challenge, is meaningful.

If you could choose to do anything for a day, what would it be? I would do yoga early and then drive up the coast to San Francisco with my daughter and my boyfriend. We would do dim sum for lunch in the city and go to a San Francisco Giants baseball game; it would be my daughter’s first game. We’ve been Giants fans forever –  I’m named after a Giants player and my daughter is named after one also.

If you could share a meal with any 4 individuals, living or dead, who would they be? I would choose Barack Obama, Anthony Bourdain, Juan Marichal, and my grandfather, who passed away 10 years ago. All of them have lived extraordinary lives and I think I would learn so much by sharing a meal and talking with them. I watched an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s travel show where he had noodles with Obama in Vietnam and I always thought that would be the perfect group and place to have to have dinner.

If you could join any past or current music group which would you want to join? Taylor Swift – my daughter is one and loves dancing to her music. I am a big fan as well. I think she’s a great role model and she seems like she would be a lot of fun. I’m not sure what I could offer musically, but I would be happy to tag along with her.

Do you have any favorite quotes? A friend of mine told me recently “You have to put the life vest on yourself first before you put it on the babies” meaning you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of others. It sounds really simple, but that has resonated with me lately and I am learning just how important physical and mental well-being are in the grand scheme of things.