Trina L




My journey from “What’s FM?” to student chapter president

The following feature was contributed by Trina Lujano, president of IFMA’s newly formed Chaffey College Student Chapter in Rancho Cucamonga, California, one of the top community colleges in the U.S.

 When Chaffey College Associate Dean Vanessa Thomas suggested I enroll in the school’s FM program, my first question was “What’s FM?” She said there are more FM jobs than qualified people to fill them; but what got my attention was the prospect of earning more than $90,000 as a facility management professional.

 I’m 52 years old. I’ve had some terrible jobs. I’ve experienced days when I knew I was worth more and deserved more. Being introduced to FM brought me hope and the possibility of real job satisfaction.

 Within a week of starting the first course, instructor Phyllis Meng approached me and said I would make a good steering committee member to form an IFMA student chapter at Chaffey. Okay, sign me up! Our committee met every Monday night; we had our launch meeting on Oct. 9, 2017; and in the weeks leading up to our formation meeting, Phyllis suggested I run for chapter president. Okay, let’s do this!

 I still didn’t completely grasp FM or IFMA; but at the formation meeting, three experiences brought me closer to understanding and appreciating both the profession and the association. First, were the industry insights shared by guest speaker Diane Coles-Levine. Second, was the humbling offer from my classmate Christopher Ramirez to sponsor my IFMA dues. Third, was the surprising announcement by my husband Damon that he was now interested in FM and planned to enroll in a course. I realized that FMs are passionate about what they do, and can inspire that passion in others.

 In January, the IFMA Foundation board of trustees gathered at Chaffey College to meet students in the FM program. That these mentors came from all parts of the world to meet us was remarkable, and resulted in a revelation of what FM and IFMA mean to me — as a part of a supportive professional community with access to thousands of contacts and resources, my future is bright! The dream of choosing where I want to work instead of taking the only job available can be a reality.

Over the past few months, I’ve spoken in several college classrooms about the opportunities available through FM and IFMA. Every event that the Chaffey FM program is asked to attend, I’m there. A high school counselor recently asked me to speak at a career expo, sharing my passion for FM with young people who don’t know what career path to follow.

IFMA, the Foundation and fellow FMs truly care about us as individuals — from students to practicing FMs to retired members. Colleagues take time out of their schedules to mentor, guide and motivate us. We have worldwide networking at our fingertips. We have access to FM content, continuing education, scholarships and professional tools. We feel as if we’re surrounded by family at every IFMA event. I not only know what FM is, I’ve found where I belong.

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