Gweneth Murphy, Ohlone Safety Officer II
1. What is your role at Ohlone and how long have you been here?
I am a Safety Officer II with Campus Police. I’ve been at Ohlone since June, 2000.
2. What is the most challenging and most rewarding part of this job?
There are challenges that we face on a daily basis on this job, but there are challenges to any job; however through team work and communication we always manage to overcome them. Sometimes, it is a little frustrating when people approach us by yelling. I understand they may be frustrated, but I think it is better when they start by talking in a normal tone.
The most rewarding part is helping people out, talking with people, interacting with my coworkers.
3. I understand that Ohlone had a tragic loss when Stewart Dawson died. First of all, who was Stewart?
Stewart Dawson was a Safety Officer also who had worked at Ohlone for about 5 years. He was my best friend. We did things outside of work. He was my sponsor when I decided to do my Catholic confirmation and he also spent time with me and my kids. We had a pretty tight friendship. He was very caring and would do anything for anyone.
4. Did you have a sense he was in trouble?
Yes. When he was having issues, I would spend 4 or 5 hours talking to him on a nightly basis about the things that were bothering him and I would tell him that things would get better. At one point I asked him, “you’re not going to kill yourself, are you?” and he said, “no, no, I would never do that.” I believed him.
5. So then when he did, how did you deal with that? What was that process like?
I went through anger, hurt, frustration, sadness, not knowing how else I could have helped him. I’m still dealing with it and I miss him daily.
6. Did you seek mental health services after Steward died?
I didn’t. I’m pretty open and I talked to most everybody. I talked to my friends and family. I’d just go up to them and say, “I need to talk.” I didn’t bottle up my feelings.
7. How did the department deal with it? Did it bring you closer?
There are 7 of us. We are a pretty tight group and we miss him still. There are days we talk about him like he’s still here. We have his picture up in our lockers. Stewy loved nature and so sometimes when we see something — an egret or a blue heron — we say, “oh, there’s Stewy saying hi.”
8. Are you more at peace now?
Yes. Stewart had told me he was talking to a counselor and I said “good. Good for you!” But he never told me he was taking medication. I found out later that someone, who is a nurse, manipulated him and told him to stop taking the medication, cold turkey. We all knew Stewart was very sensitive, and this person pushed him toward this.
9. Did this experience change your perception about mental health?
No. Not really. I would still do everything possible to help someone who needed it, and I think it’s a good idea that people talk about what’s going on.
10. What do you to relieve stress? What do you like to do during your spare time?
I spend time with friends and hangout. Going to hockey games, motor cycle races, photography.
11. What kind of support system do you have at home?
My mom, my grandma, and my brother.