Manager has passion for people

-A A +A
By Jennifer Garcia

For a lot of people, retirement is something to look forward to. For Bernadette Quintana, the manager at the Los Alamos Motor Vehicle Division, retirement is a bittersweet thought.

Though she has been planning retirement since this summer, she has yet to actually take the leap into the retiree pool.

Quintana, a Santa Cruz native, has worked for the MVD for approximately 23 years, but has worked for the state since 1982.

She began her career working for the Fire Marshall’s office, where she spent two years as a data entry clerk. She also worked with other state agencies before transferring to the MVD.

She worked with the Taxation and Revenue Department, as well with the medical assistance office. She eventually transferred to the MVD, where she has been ever since.

“I have a passion for working with people,” Quintana said. She said that she realized her passion at a young age, when she and her sister would play office. She said that they would set their dolls up and pretend they were customers, and pretend they were working in an office.

She also said it was at that time that her sister realized her dream of becoming a hair stylist. “She’d cut her dolls’ hair and cry later because it wouldn’t grow back. She’s a successful stylist today,” Quintana said.

Quintana said that she had to work hard to get where she is today.

“As a single parent, you make your job your priority,” Quintana said. “I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to work hard. I was able to instill in my daughter that getting a good education can put her in a good direction.”

She said her daughter saw how hard she worked and went to college to get her master’s degree. She now works at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Quintana said that working at the MVD is one of the hardest positions you can take in state government.

“This is the hardest job you’ll ever work in your life,” she said. “You have to deal with law enforcement, social security, doctors, and all kinds of agencies, all the while maintaining good customer service,” she continued.

Quintana also said that the knowledge you have to acquire in an MVD position is tremendous. “It’s (the position) not for everyone,” she said.

Though the work is challenging at times, Quintana wouldn’t have it any other way.

She said that the most rewarding part of her job is working with people.

“You see cultures and people from all over the world and you hear the stories that they bring with them,” she said.

Going the extra mile for her customers brings Quintana great joy. She’s so dedicated to what she does, that she once opened the MVD office for one person on a Saturday, which is a regularly scheduled day off for her.

A student needed to board a plane to go to college but needed to take care of some MVD business first. Quintana had to call one of her managers to get approval to open on a Saturday. She received approval to open the office for that one person and drove from Santa Cruz to Los Alamos to handle the situation. The student was able to catch the flight and go to school.

Quintana also said she’s gone outside to help people fill out paperwork because they are handicapped and not able to enter the building. But with the good also comes the bad.

Quintana said that she’s had her fair share of difficult customers.

“I try to put myself in their shoes. You get frustrated when you can’t get what you want. I try to give them assistance or give them a way to solve their problem and get their transaction processed,” she said. “It’s not easy to keep everyone happy, but I’ll find a resolution one way or another.”

Quintana said that once she retires, she plans on spending time with her grandkids, but would also like to go to work part-time in some capacity that would allow her to work with the public.

“I didn’t get to spend time with my own kids,” she said. “I want to be able to spend time with my grandkids and go on field trips with them.”

As of right now, Quintana said the she is planning to retire on Dec. 31.

“I tell my staff that one day I’m going to leave for lunch and not come back,” she joked. “I have a great staff. They’ll be left in good hands. They’re very knowledgeable.”