Evereyone knows… #6Hugo Rosado
‘I’m kind of like a big brother to the students’
Hugo Rosado holds out two mugs. ‘Would you like the one that says Tree Rex or I like you a latte?’ After eight years at the University College Groningen (UCG), he’s finally cracked the code: the coffee from the vending machine is palatable if you mix it with chocolate milk.
‘No one here knows who I am’, he says, joking. In fact, everywhere he goes, people say hello to him. And he knows all the students in the place, including the ones that graduated as far back as 2020. He even remembers their names. ‘It’s easier to talk to people when you’ve created a bond with them.’
It’s easier to talk to people when you’ve created a bond with them
Students come to him when they need help with technical matters: a broken phone or Wi-Fi issues. But they also turn to him with more personal issues. International students especially know where to find him, he says. ‘They tend to struggle because they don’t have any family or friends here. I try to give them advice as much as I can, but sometimes I just listen.’
Students at other faculties have told Rosado about the tunnel vision they sometimes have: they can’t see beyond their own studies and their own friends. ‘But here, we’re one big family.’ That’s what makes the UCG so special, he feels. ‘You don’t choose your friends; your friends choose you.’
He started at the UCG in 2014, in the role of caretaker. He looked after the building and the people living and studying there. He remembers how he’d help students move in his first year: he was in charge of allocating rooms and made sure that everyone was happy. ‘That was my introduction to the UCG students.’
I want to learn more and staying in one place isn’t good enough for me
Over the years, his responsibilities were added to, and these days, he does just about anything but teach. He is in charge of purchasing and room reservations and helps students organise events such as swap meets. ‘There’s always something to do, and it’s never the same thing twice.’
‘I’m kind of like a big brother to the students’, says Rosado. He regularly gets invited to parties, but he has strict rules about those. UCG students might see him as a big brother, but that relationship is confined within the walls of the university. But he makes an exception for students in their last year he’s created a special bond with. ‘I’ll do fun things with them, like going climbing or having lunch together.’
Nevertheless, he’s humble about the impact he has on students’ lives. ‘They’re the ones who’ve worked for everything they’ve achieved. All I can do is guide people.’ He does this by sharing any and all knowledge he has. ‘That information is lost when I leave here, unless I share it with people.’
In 2024, the UCG, currently located at the Hoendiepskade, will move to its own building, and Rosado has been thinking hard about what it should look like. He wants a music room and an auditorium that feels like outside.
Rosado loves his UCG family and he’s not leaving any time soon, but he might want to work elsewhere eventually. He’d love to work with his hands. ‘I have this dream about opening my own bakery or selling my own coffee blend in the Netherlands.’
Sitting still is not for him. ‘At a certain point, I’ve learned everything there is to learn, but I want more. Staying in one place isn’t good enough for me.’
Series | There are some UG employees that everyone knows. The cafeteria worker with the nice laugh, the concierge who can always tell you how to get somewhere.