Milady Fernandez Took Leave of Absence To Nurse Injury

Members of the Phillips Academy community whose morning or midday routine includes a stop in Lower Left have missed a familiar smile, that of Milady Fernandez, a staff member at Paresky Commons, who had taken a leave of absence for the past nine weeks due to an injury. Fernandenz recently returned to work after a leave due to two bones she broke in February. “I went to open the trunk of my jeep in the back [one morning] and some ice [that] had accumulated on the top in the middle of the night, fell and hit my foot,” she said. “I was away for nine weeks. I just sat down and watched T.V. and read. Sometimes I’d cook. I’d use crutches and I’d cook and wash the dishes,” said Fernandez. Fernandez said she missed the school during her time away from work and said, “It was nice rest, but it was uncomfortable because I’m not used to sitting down. I wanted to come back [to work].” “All the teachers and my friends from work said it’s good you came back. They looked happy, so I hope they were.” Fernandez said everyone received her return with excitement. “I know a lot of teachers and students, and I talk to them because they come to get coffee every day but [I don’t know them] by name.” Fernandez has worked at Phillips Academy since February 4, 1988, always smiling and lending a hand to those in need of assistance. Originally born in the Dominican Republic, Fernandez moved to Massachusetts after she was married at age 19. Fernandez finished high school in Lawrence, learned some English, and was hired by Phillips Academy. “My English isn’t too good, but I understand [it],” she said. “I came to Andover because of my friend. He recommended I work here, so I started to work at the dining hall in food service. I began to work for Aramark on September 1, 1991.” said Fernandez. In the beginning, Fernandez cooked omelets upstairs, but now she works at the coffee station. Since Fernandez has worked at Phillips Academy for 23 years, she has experienced changes in dining facilities first hand. “[When I first worked here,] we had less variety of foods and now we have a lot of different kinds of foods and vegetables. Before, they used to prepare the food a day before. Now you can see how they cook the food, but before you couldn’t see how they cooked it,” said Fernandez. “I like this new dining hall more, but I also liked how we worked together in the old one. Three years ago, we used to work in one group [of five people] together in the old dining hall. I liked that because we were together and we [would] have fun.” Fernandez has many relatives who live in Lawrence, some of which work with her at Paresky Commons. “My brother, Robert, my sister, Juliana Fernandez, and my boyfriend, Cesar Taberas all work here. Juliana does dishwashing and Robert works in the catering department. I like working with my family.” Fernandez grew up in a large family in the Dominican Republic with her 15 siblings and her seven cousins. Fernandez’s immediate family in Lawrence is smaller since she has only four children, compared to the fifteen siblings growing up with her. In the Dominican Republic, Fernandez used to help her mother at home and enjoy its rich culture. “I miss the food, the beach and the river, in the Dominican Republic, but in the summer here, sometimes I go to the beach and the park with my children,” said Fernandez. “I wanted to come to America because you know everyone wants to come to see how America is. I like the government and the laws of America. Here everybody has an equal vote but in the Dominican Republic, sometimes it isn’t like that.”