MEET THE FACE OF THE FRONT DESK
As a child, Meg Humphrey re-watched “The Little Mermaid” on her VCR tapes to the point of breaking them.
Looking back, she realizes she was a very lucky 3-year-old to have a dad who didn’t mind replacing those tapes over and over again.
Today, Humphrey, who works for SCC’s International Education Office as a Program Assistant, sitsat the front desk of the office, which makes her one of the first faces onewould see when entering the room. Hues of blue flowing down her dress, graphics of Ariel, also known as the little mermaid, fill the canvas of her skirt. Just to the right of the doorway, Humphrey sits behind the counter, flashing a grin to students walking in the room.
Two girls approach the front desk with light footsteps, whispering between themselves in Chinese. Humphrey looks up, beaming, her maroon lipstick glittering as she speaks.
One of the girls seem hesitant in conveying her question, with a light tone, head slightlybent down, shoulders hunched over, and she glances to her friend back and forth. As if she’s a mind-readerwith telepathic skills, Humphrey asks, “Are you looking to meet an adviser today?”
The girl nods, letting out a sigh of relief as she smiles.
Humphrey may not actually be a mind-reader, but her observational skills and knowledge around the office are reflected through the way she communicates with students.
The 30-year-old can also be an eye-catcher in a crowd of gray pants and winter coats — especially in an office setting. With vibrantly colored skirts, “Star Wars” tattoos etched onto the surface of her arms, a nose ring and color-coordinated outfits, she might not be the exact definition of what’s usually expected ina higher education institution.
Her love for coordinating outfits spewed from her childhood. Growing up, she trained herself to sew, starting from assembling homemade gifts to being able to create her own clothing.
“I can’t work with patterns, I just make it up as I go,” she said.
Humphrey explained that her choice in clothing is a way to express herself. Like a reflection of her, bright and fun prints help her feel positive. So, if you ever find yourself meeting Humphrey wearing sweats and darker clothes, it might be a hint that she may not be in her best mood at the time.
During her time in college, she would have strangers talk about her — the girl with little mermaid skirts. She says that the way she dresses today “is actually much more toned down than when I was in college.”
Seattle-born and raised, Humphrey has a degree from UW in sociology with a focus on criminology. She undertook a variety of minors including law, social justice and Japanese studies.
After completing her bachelor’s degree, she headed out to try careers in different industries such as law, finance and customer service, while doing volunteer work for nonprofits such as Treehouse, which works with foster children, on the side. She also kept her love for clothing and fandom culture close to her heart, keeping her habit of attending events like GeekGirlCon or SakuraCon (a Japanese anime convention held locally).
Humphrey has never lived abroad and hasn’t had much experience overseas, but during the two times she did, it was to Japan and Paris. On her vacation in Japan, she found it culturally shocking that people in areas like Harajuku stared at her oddly, with her wild, vibrantly colored hair, crazy outfits, and a lot of piercings. With her visible tattoos, which are a taboo in Japan, she was judged as a troublemaker — very different from the culture here in the U.S.
Although she initially had law school in mind as a continuation of her major, after working in a law firm as a records manager, she was convinced the field wasn’t for her. According to Humphrey, being an attorney was too heavily focused on simply the job, “hours and hours, days and nights spent in theoffice.”
If she continued pursuing it, there wouldn’t have been a good work and life balance, and she wouldn’t have the time for her extracurricular passions, like sewing. Loaded with a range of interests in mind, she took the experiences she had throughout the years to explore more options and find what felt best to her.
Humphrey stumbled upon her current job opening at SCC and applied for it as it seemed to fit her background of working and studying in diversity-related fields. It also aligned with where she wanted to work, a public education institution, as opposed to an industry focused purely on profits. Today, settling down with her job in SCC, she describes her time here as a “weight off her shoulders.
“Working here has given me the clarity to say that, yes, I want to work in education,” Humphrey says, followed with a light giggle.
As someone who has the opportunity to sit and work in the front desk of the International Education Office, she finds that the small interactions are the moments that really leave an impact to her — like having her name remembered by students, when students share about their day or ask for advice. Even students from countries abroad would find themselves engaging in conversations about makeup and daring outfits with Humphrey, feeling inspired by the courage she has to wear what she wants to, without fear of judgement.
Humphrey, too, finds a lot of lessons and various pieces of cultural knowledge as she chats with students in the office.
“Knowing more about different cultures just makes everybody a better person,” she said.
When Yushing Wung joined the International Education Office a month after Humphrey, they found themselves in a reunion of familiar faces. Wung recalled Humphrey as “the girl who makes her own clothes, and actually looks cool with them,” remembering seeing Humphrey in hallways of her high school, but never really getting acquainted.
As close friends today, Wung still loves the way Humphrey dresses.
“She really puts thought in the way her clothing looks … her style really shows her interests and (she chooses) colorful clothing that makes her happy, and makes other people smile,” Wung said.
As of now, Humphrey plans to continue to work at SCC, while she considers looking into getting a master’s degree for education administration on the side.
Humphrey likes to share lessons with students who feel pressured by classes and applications
“You never really know how things are going to end up, and you don’t necessarily have to follow a plan. You’ll end up where you need to be,” she said.
By Natasha Ann Sidik,