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Five Minutes With… “Jesse the Janitor”

Photo by: Theresa Agonia/PDQ


One of the most popular faces on campus among the student body, Jesse Paiva keeps Maple Residence Hall ship shape for the freshman (and handful of upperclassmen) who live there. PDQ sat down with Jesse for five minutes to learn more about the man students affectionately refer to as “Jesse the Janitor.”

How long have you worked at RWU?

I’ve been at Roger Williams since July 16, 2003.

How do you remember the date?

I don't know. It’s just one of those things, you know, you just- those are the things you remember. Like your birthdate, your wife’s birthday, your anniversary...

And the day you started at Roger Williams University?

And the day I started at Roger Williams University. It’s one of those days I mean I remember numbers that’s just the way it is.

What do you most enjoy about working at Roger Williams?

That’s a very easy question. I just love the atmosphere of Roger Williams and I love the students. I worked before in academics and I used to work third shift and when you work third shift there’s no life as far as students and stuff like that. So when I finally got a chance to have been in the dorms it was like, Wow! I have children of my own who are just a little older than college age students. It’s just a very fulfilling job.

You must have a favorite aspect of your job.

My favorite part of the job? It’s opening day, when the new freshman are coming, and graduation when I see them walk across the stage. It’s like… I can’t even talk about it. It’s very emotional for me when I see the kids because I’m with them four years. It’s not that they’re living in the dorm with you for fours year, but you always see them. I always see them when I’m going to lunch or they’ll see me and they’ll be yelling my name. And to finally see them make that walk is really a touching moment for me.

Do you feel like you’re working when you’re working?

No. No. It’s not like work. This is really a joy to come to work. It’s the youth – I watch the kids when they come in when they’re freshman and I watch them grow. I watch them grow up. Sometimes I keep in contact with them until they’re seniors; it’s like a nice transition to see them come in as wide-eyed freshman and then to see them graduate, growing, and ready for the world.

What is something that our readers should know about you?

I like Broadway songs.

Can you sing any?

No no I can’t. Yes I can.

(Singing) I’m getting married in the morning ding dong the bells are gonna chime. I’m getting married in the morning so get me to the church on time.

That’s “My Fair Lady.” That’s it. I’m not going do Oklahoma for you.

Where are you from?

Bristol. Born in Bristol in 1948 at 468 Thames St. In a house! My mother always tells me, “yeah you came in a hurry. We didn’t have a chance so we had you at home.” The doctor came in and delivered right at my grandmother’s house, actually.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever given someone?

Oh I don’t know. Here it would be to get to class, get an education and do something that you love to do. And stay out of trouble! But have fun, too.

How do you always stay so positive and upbeat?

I don’t know, it’s just in me I guess. I guess these kids keep me young. Young and vibrant here!

And because we are all so young at heart, what do you want to be when you grow up?

I haven’t decided what I want to be when I grow up. (Chuckles) No idea. It’s too bad that someday I’m going to have to retire from this job, but I have to make room for somebody else to come in. But I don’t know. Maybe I’ll never leave campus. Maybe I’ll always make a path through the campus.

How do you think so many students know who you are, even those who haven’t lived in Maple?

Are there a lot that know me? Really?

Yeah I was just telling my friend that I was coming over to interview you and she’s never lived in Maple, but she knows you.

Oh I don’t know. I guess my small community in Maple, they have friends. A lot of times when their friends are over I get to meet their friends. So I guess that’s how they know me.

So would you consider yourself a friend of everyone who lives in Maple?

I consider myself a friend of everybody I meet. If I meet you and I get to know your name, you’re my friend.