‘Duty calls, and somebody has to answer’
As an 18-year-old employee at 7-Eleven on Temple University’s Main Campus, Phylicia Rosario, new to the job world and intent on succeeding, kept this adage in mind: First impressions are lasting ones.
So when customers would visit the store, she would greet them with a courteous smile and chat with regulars, including Temple police officers and supervisors, who encouraged her to consider applying her service-oriented skills to a position in Campus Safety Services even though she had no background in the field.
Hired in January 2006, at age 19, as a security officer, Rosario has grown up with Temple’s police department, literally and figuratively. Six months after her hiring, Rosario volunteered to work in Campus Safety’s communications center, where emergency calls are taken and dispatched. She transferred there full-time that winter.
Since then, Rosario has achieved five professional certifications, has advanced to one of four team-leader positions in the communications center and was the first person in the department to attain the status of master-level dispatcher. Now 28 and a mother of two boys, Kahir and Kahmari, Rosario is approaching 10 years with the department.
“I didn’t learn to love my job,” said Rosario, who grew up near Main Campus at 10th and Berks streets in the Norris Apartments community. “I loved it from the beginning.”
Rosario has coupled her interest in helping others with a desire for more knowledge and training. In addition to her certifications through the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International, Rosario helps to teach, coach and mentor other members of the communications center staff, who field incoming calls and dispatch officers.
Rosario encounters a wide range of subjects and varying levels of emotional distress among callers. She tries to approach each one with a personal touch and maintains calm so she can gain information while reassuring the person that “we’re here and that we love you.”
“There’s nothing like getting a phone call and helping a person from start to finish,” said Rosario, whose approach has been recognized inside and outside of the department. As a token of appreciation, a parent she assisted left a batch of cookies for her at the front desk.
Lt. Carol Harvey, who helps oversee the communications center, said Rosario’s pleasant personality and calming influence serve her well in navigating calls. Equally important is her “influence on the other dispatchers to reach the same goals she has.”
“She goes out of her way to ensure the other dispatchers know as much as she does,” Harvey said, adding that Rosario has helped colleagues with test preparation for certifications. “She wants to ensure everything is done correctly.”
Rosario said the stresses of the job are mitigated by the professionalism and teamwork in the communications center. She sees herself continuing to grow with the department and “working as hard as I’ve been working.”
“I put in a lot of work in that radio room,” Rosario said. “Duty calls, and somebody has to answer.”