Not many people can say they are paid to read minds, but as correspondence coordinator for
Chancellor Steve Kang, that pretty much sums up Marie Sardalla-Davis’ daily duties.
“My job is to project the chancellor’s thoughts in writing,” Sardalla-Davis said about the position she took on in mid-February. “I draft his talking points, letters, memos, messages for publication and PowerPoint slides.”
Writing is something Sardalla-Davis had made a career of. She spent close to six years at a nearby university in a similar position, and before that, she was a reporter for local newspapers. Those jobs, Sardalla-Davis said, laid the groundwork for her new position in the chancellor’s office.
“To sound like another person - to anticipate his preferences - a writer needs to silence her own,” Sardalla-Davis said. “I have to climb into the chancellor’s head and figure out how to articulate his passion as if he were doing it himself.”
As far as passion goes, Sardalla-Davis has one of her own: ballroom dancing. She spends her Thursday evenings teaching beginning dance classes. She rotates among teaching waltz, rhumba, salsa, foxtrot, tango, cha-cha, nightclub two-step and swing.
“I remember watching “The King and I” and wanting to waltz like that,” she said. “I didn’t realize the athleticism behind those precise movements. Not to mention the stoicism. Hurting hips cannot hinder smiling lips while teaching.”
Juggling the demands of her job at UC Merced and teaching dance in Modesto keeps Sardalla-Davis on her toes, but being busy keeps her energized.
“I dance for the same reason I write,” she said. “You can slip into a different persona and forget yourself for a while. It’s not about you, and that’s just how I like it.”