Staff Spotlight ~ Kathleen Roberts
History buff mentors freshmen, takes prize at Staff Art Show
By Laurie Mellas Ramirez
Kathleen Roberts of UNM Admissions was on the front lines as a record 3,005 freshmen enrolled this semester.
|Kathleen Roberts, UNM Admissions
“Sometimes you feel like you’ve talked to every one of them,” she said.
Not that she minds. In fact, Roberts stepped up for a second chance to assist the budding scholars. She leads a fall semester Freshman Interest Group (FIG) “Gifted and Growing.” The one-hour seminar is designed to help 25 freshmen enrolled in Prof. Monica Cyrino’s classics’ course move beyond “brainy” labels and tackle other issues unique to high achievers.
“I help students get acquainted with the university system, explain how to navigate programs and get help. Some students come from high schools where their entire school was smaller than their Greek mythology class,” she said.
Roberts learned how to grow her mind while having fun as an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. An international organization, the SCA is dedicated to researching and recreating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Its “Known World” consists of 17 kingdoms, with more than 30,000 members around the world. Members dress in clothing from the Middle Ages and Renaissance and attend events such as tournaments, arts exhibits, classes, workshops, dances and feasts.
Roberts takes part in several ways – she does research, designs, sews and embroiders costumes, writes stories and poems, illustrates scrolls and books with 9th and 10th century calligraphy and cooks medieval feasts to feed some 350 members regionally. She also serves as a “Mistress of the Laurel,” an accolade acknowledging skill and ability to teach in the arts. On a recent weekend she mentored a UNM student at a Denver competition.
“Basically, we’re a bunch of harmless historical nuts,” said Roberts, who participates regularly with her husband Joseph, a heavy weapons fighter and equestrian. “You can play as heavily or lightly as you wish. Some just enjoy the friendships.”
The UNM campus has an active group, Roberts said, named the “The College of Blaiddwyn,” which has a royal coronation set for the second Saturday in November.
“Kathleen is an inspiration to all of us. She has a brilliantly creative mind,” said Frances Pittman, associate director, Admissions. “She has a knack for extemporaneously making plain words sound like poetry. Kathleen uses her talents to perform her office duties with accuracy and gives a creative twist to all she does. She was born out of her time; she would have made a great medieval character.”
Roberts’ talents were showcased during UNM Staff Week in July. Two of her illustrated books took the top prize at the Staff Art Show.
Students in the classics FIG seminar will benefit from Roberts’ approach to learning. For their final project students will be asked to adopt the voice of a character from Greek mythology and talk about the adventures and challenges of their first semester.