Day in the Life of Mrs. Debra Roca

Aria Desai ’24

No matter a person’s place in the Peddie Community, every member is acquainted with the soothing experience of going to “tech.” Between needing replacement styluses, fixing a TV monitor’s Bluetooth, adding another administrator to a Canvas page and the other many tasks thrown at tech, the office in the basement of Annenberg has welcomed each and every member of the Peddie community. Still, besides the technological side tech offers, it stretches to offer a safe haven to members in need of a friendly face or cozy space. The person behind both operations of the Tech department at Peddie is none other than Mrs. Deborah Roca. 

Roca, born in the Central New Jersey town of East Brunswick, quickly attained her caring, nurturing, and loving attributes from her warm-hearted family. Her home was filled with football games, crafts and many animals, which would quickly gain great precedence in her life. The love and care she received from her family inspired her immensely, for before she was even able to obtain a car license, Roca was volunteering as an EMT at the local fire department. Choosing to live captively to the pager that would sit on her bedside table, Roca never wanted to miss the opportunity to help someone in need. As such, she can even recall an anecdote in which, as she said, “I remember having this little guy pee all over me,” explaining that the kid’s mother was on the gurney after a car accident, and he was “all upset and I’m trying to console him and whatever else and he just lets out!” She followed up what seems, on the surface level, as simply a funny story with, “I’ll never forget that.” She explained how powerful it is just “to be able to, you know, try to help these little guys.”  

Around this same time, Roca was also working with an animal shelter. One day, when she was caring for a dog who had been left at a kennel, she found herself picking up the phone to the news that the dog she had just been stroking was, all of a sudden, without an owner. With no hesitation, Roca declared, “Okay, no problem,” and brought the dog home as her own. 

The dog’s impact on 16-year-old Roca was one that solely enhanced her adoration of animals. Growing up, she had ridden horses, so dogs fit perfectly into her animal-surrounded world and family. It is no surprise that Roca established dogs in her life as an adult right off the bat, as she currently lives with three dogs, two of her own, Harley and Fendi, and Bruno, her daughter’s. These dogs contributed her family’s memories, whether that be their daily walks, or weekly snack stealings during Sunday Night Football! 

Those sports nights, however, offered not only a chance for the dogs to put on some more belly weight but also another opportunity for the family time that was always of utmost importance to Roca. Whether it be those Sunday sports watching or even projects like making pumpkins out of her Dad’s old clothes, Roca always made it her number one priority to provide as much, if not more, of the love and care she treasured in her family growing up. She makes a point to ensure she “was always a Mom first,” before anything else going on. 

To Roca, it was that simple. See a need, take the place, and with just the right amount of luck, you might just find yourself with a peeing kid, a new best friend or even a full-loving family. 

Roca translates this same ethic to her job, as she applies this mentality to the many kids she helps daily. In fact, Roca’s introduction to Peddie was in the faculty children’s daycare that lived in Coates Coleman, where she worked part-time for a couple of years. She then moved on to the bookstore, whose residence at the time next to the tech office was her introduction to the department. Her efficient and caring nature while working distinguished her to Mr. Viola. When one of the Technological Support Administrators left, as Roca explains with vivid excitement, “He called to me while walking through a Target! And he called out, ‘That position is now open! You’ll be perfect!’ And I’m like, ‘Why? You’re crazy! I don’t know anything about it!’” Yet now, eight years later, she continues to work with dedication and compassion in her tech department position.

Even through all her work, Roca diligently learns all about technology at Peddie. The ever-wavering nature of the job enables her to constantly continue learning, as she points out that “every day, there’s something new that I’m learning.” 

As for what all of this is, Roca leads a day compacted with organization, technological support and “more or less, keeping things running.” 

Her day begins at 6:30 a.m. with her dogs. Even after getting them started, it’s always a struggle to get out of the house because Roca’s dogs never want to let her leave! Therefore, she always makes sure to allot a couple of minutes for them each morning. Once she makes it into the office, the first half hour goes to going through all of the technology tickets, sorting and organizing them to make sure they will most efficiently be solved. It’s only then that Roca has a chance to brew a cup of coffee and go through her emails and messages, as they are always cast aside through the scramble of getting the day started. Emails are accompanied by chatter and catch up, after which “the kids start rolling in!” The next couple of hours go to troubleshooting in the front, assigning loaners or sending technology out, as well as visits into classrooms, offices and printer or copying machines to solve each and every issue under the technology sun. 

Roca ends her day in the Technology Office at around 4:00 or 4:30 p.m., which marks her transition into family life. Her afternoons consist of things like household shopping, cleaning, cooking dinner and, of course, walking her dogs. Between Tech work, homework, and the various happenings in her own life, it’s hard for Roca to find time to do things for herself, but when she can, she starts crafty projects, sets up family times, and, on the rare occasion, watches Yellowstone! Her day starts to dwindle down at around 9:30 p.m., and she aims to be in bed, nestled with Harley by 10 p.m., already ready for the next day when she’ll start it all over again. 

Each day in Roca’s life is an array of connections, something many students at Pedde will be able to attest to. She explains that the connections can arise from things as simple as a “matter of kids coming in because they continue to lose their Peddie Card, and that becomes a joke.” For instance, she brings up an anecdote of a student who even put “Roca” as his school password because of how often he came in, needing to have it changed by Roca. She aims to constantly make kids as comfortable as she can, from leaving piles of snacks and drinks out to painting the office as a safe and warm space. 

Roca notes that one of her favorite parts of working with children is finding “kids that are lost or challenged.” She explained that, “I like to work with them. I like to get to know them, and guide them, and help them as best that I can.” 

She continued, “I like to do that. Because I came from a very loving family. And I think that Mr. Roca and have a very loving family. And that’s why I try to give it all back.”