Ms. Hernandez Cruz is a joyful addition to Student Affairs

Monday morning, running late, and now on my way to check in, I dread the incoming point on my record, but as soon as I walk into student affairs, my worries subside when I see Mariela Hernandez Cruz smiling from her desk. The Student Affairs Administrative Assistant was welcomed by the Dana Hall community this school year and has brought a joyful radiance to the Student Affairs team. 

Ms. Hernandez Cruz graduated from Wellesley College and later worked with Wellesley ABC. She came to Dana Hall hoping to blend her love for working with students and her knowledge of administrative tasks. She has personal experience in schools like Dana Hall as she went to an independent school throughout middle and high school. 

Ms. Hernandez Cruz handles logistical administrative tasks and is responsible for a lot of the happenings behind the scenes in terms of keeping the school functioning. She is also responsible for holding students accountable for their absence from class. “The responsibility of attendance is a big feat considering I’ve never done anything like it before,” she says. Yet Ms. Hernandez Cruz has successfully cultivated a connection between students and administrators. 

“She is supportive and generous, and her presence brings a sense of community to the office. I really feel like she understands what it is like to be a student,” says Hilary Reuter ‘25.

Ms. Hernandez Cruz’s favorite part of the position is her relationships with students. “Dana reminds me of the importance of having a space that allows students to be themselves,” she said. Her role “started out as very administrative, but I felt like it didn’t allow space to connect with students, so I wanted to create more of an interactive aspect.”

This aspiration to have an active relationship with students resulted in her daily Post-It note survey. Each morning a new question is posted on pieces of paper on Ms. Hernandez Cruz’s desk. ‘Dogs or cats’, ‘hot or cold’, and ‘summer or winter’ are just a few examples of the notable queries. Each student visiting her office throughout the day can vote for their desired choice. These questions and poll results are often reported in morning advisory announcements as discussion starters. “I hope I have created more space for students to connect with me and their peers,” she added.

As the Dana Hall community looks forward to the new Upper School Classroom building next year, so does Ms. Hernandez Cruz. She says, “I know there’s so much room for Student Affairs to grow. I’m very excited to be closer to the rest of the team and to continue to make sure students are getting the support they need with attendance as one small part.”

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