When Tyrone Roper, MSW, director of the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s Community Engagement Center (CEC), moved into his first-floor office at the CEC at 16 S. Poppleton St. last fall, he had to hit the ground running to get the new center ready for the public. He hasn’t yet had the time to decorate his office space.
“I do look forward at some point to situating this space so that it’s indicative of who I am,” said Roper, who became the center’s director in late 2019.
But he does have three items that have both meaning and purpose to him on and around his desk.
Behind his desk is a photo of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the quote: “I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow. But to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forevermore.”
Roper, who says he looks at the quote each morning, added, “It helps me continue to stay grounded and focused on the bigger picture. It helps me to stay focused on this work not being about me trying to create my own image but making sure that I’m focused on catering and supporting and in partnership with our neighbors to be able to provide those things that they look forward to.”
He said the most important thing on his desk is a candle with a warmer. “I love the smell of candles and that really helps me a lot,” he said. “It helps to keep me in a good headspace to continue to focus.”
Also on his desk, which he calls an “absolute workspace,” is his notebook of tasks for the day.
“It’s important for me because of the type of thinker that I am. I have to handwrite my major tasks out,” he said. “Each morning I write those things out with checkboxes next to them to help me categorize and prioritize things that I need to focus on for the day. I don’t always successfully complete it because there are other emergencies and priorities that will consistently pop up that draw me away from those things that I really want to be able to support.”