I Spy: Joan Trupiano, a jack of all trades for the English department
Joan Trupiano admits to being something of a perfectionist. It is a trait that has served her well as an administrative specialist of the Department of English, as the chair and countless others in the department can attest.
“I am one of the behind-the-scenes people who take care of a lot of the office work when students and faculty need things done,” said Trupiano, who has an eye for detail and a desire to serve. Some of the many tasks she handles include facilitating the hiring of part-time faculty each semester, assisting students with many of the forms such as when they need special permission to get into a class, or a change of major or minor. She also helps arrange English department events, like the Words to Say It visiting author series, Scholars Symposium and English Week events.
“There are a lot of different tentacles that we handle,” she said. “We are the administrative hub. Almost always something has to pass through this desk to make things happen.”
This is Trupiano’s first nomination for I Spy, the employee recognition program whereby CCU employees can nominate staff and faculty members for outstanding performance. Department of English Chair Dan Albergotti, who has worked with Trupiano since he became chair in 2014, nominated her.
“She is an absolute delight to work with – always positive, always helpful and always one step ahead of the game,” said Albergotti. “She is always looking for new ways to make the department run more efficiently and successfully.”
Though at times her work can get hectic, Trupiano said this type of position feeds her spirit.
“I enjoy making things easier for others to do their job,” she said. “I have a great work environment and I am really thrilled to be here every day.”
Trupiano was born in Myrtle Beach, where her father was stationed at the former Air Force base. She is no stranger to the service industry, and she enjoys being someone who can be counted upon. After earning a degree in psychology from Coastal Carolina College, she worked for approximately 15 years in the hospitality field, beginning with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and oceanfront hotel businesses, and later with the Burroughs & Chapin Company.
“Unfortunately in 2008 when the stock market crashed, Burroughs & Chapin had to let 200 people go, and I was one of them,” said Trupiano. “But this was actually a blessing.”
In 2010, Trupiano returned to CCU as an administrative specialist for the communication department. She later moved to the Department of English in the same position.
Albergotti also nominated Trupiano for the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts’ annual Staff Recognition Award, which she won last April.
“I feel unbelievably thankful,” said Trupiano. “There’s a real family feeling here, and the longer I’m here, I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
When she’s not taking care of CCU students and faculty, even bringing refreshments and cookies to faculty meetings from time to time, Trupiano devotes time to her first love, photography.
Trupiano says she has been snapping photos from the moment someone put a Brownie camera in her hands as a child.
“I was always the person taking pictures for my family,” she said. “If it hadn’t been for my snapping shots, we probably wouldn’t have any recorded memories of Christmas and other family events. I’ll never forget my father always saying, ‘That’s enough, Joan, that’s enough.’”
But for Trupiano, enough was never enough. She has taken beautiful photographs all along the Grand Strand and across the globe in places like France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands.
“My mother was born in Berlin, so I was blessed with the opportunity to go back and visit with her,” she said. “I love photographing scenic views, plants and flowers from different countries. All of those areas are just so beautiful.” Trupiano recently had one of her local photos published in Grand Strand Magazine after submitting her work in an open competition.
“They did a feature on the Murrells Inlet area, and I was surprised I got more than half a page,” said Trupiano.
In addition to photography, Trupiano creates her own jewelry with semi-precious and precious stones, glass and crystal. She began designing jewelry in her high school days when wood beads were fashionable. Now, she prefers working with the stones of the earth, drawing inspiration from her time as an anthropology and archaeology minor at Coastal.
“What keeps me busiest is working here, gardening and landscaping, creating jewelry and photography, and keeping an eye out for my mom, who lives in the area,” said Trupiano. “I also make time for my fiancé, whom I’ve known for 21 years, so I’m kept pretty busy.”
But, according to Trupiano, her interactions with the students and the faculty make it all worthwhile.
“Truly, it’s the people,” she said. “You can work anywhere with four walls and a computer, but the people, the connections and the socialization are what it’s all about. I try to make a difference and make everyone who comes through my door feel like it’s a safe place to be. Any student or faculty member who has questions, problems or concerns, no matter what it is, can always come to me.”
To nominate someone for I Spy, go to coastal.edu/traininganddevelopment and click on I Spy for nomination. Nominees are honored at the end of the year.