When Marisela Angel started work at UC Merced in May 2002, she was excited to be assisting the IT division with technical and business tasks. The Planada native and first-generation Fresno State graduate was also expecting her second child. But when baby Alejandro died due to a detached placenta, she found herself on an unexpected journey learning how many sources existed, at work and elsewhere, to offer her support.
“I was in a hole emotionally ” not thinking about the future, not wanting to leave the house,” Angel recalls. “My older son, José Luis, really kept me alive during that time.”
Her doctor persisted in connecting her with Mothers In Sympathy and Support (MISS), where she learned that her feelings were normal and found opportunities to talk about and memorialize Alejandro. Since then, Angel has become an important volunteer for the local branch of the international foundation, helping plan an annual candle-lighting ceremony and reaching out to Spanish-speaking parents in the area who need the group’s resources.
“I like to be active rather than sitting on the sidelines,” she says. “And my Spanish-language skills were needed. I want to help MISS grow locally, because many parents have lost children and really need support.”
When Angel and her husband were ready to try again to add to their family, she found another kind of support: UC Merced worked with her to arrange an extended maternity leave.
“I wanted plenty of time with my new baby,” she says. “We saved money so I could take some unpaid leave in addition to the benefits that already existed for me, and I spent several months focusing on my family. UC Merced has been wonderful. I could enjoy my leave knowing that my job was here for me when I came back.”
The new baby, now a year old, has been a healer. Angel and her husband named him Emmanuel in tribute to the spiritual significance they attach to his birth.
His mother is now back at work and looking forward to the future again. “It’s a good time for my career right now,” she says. “I’m willing to dedicate a lot to UC because they worked so well with me when I needed that support.”