Einstein's Relativity: A Family's Ties at Einstein
If there’s one word to describe how Gabriel “Junior” Torres, Jr., Wanda “Wendy” Tirado-Torres, and Christina Santiago approach their work at Einstein, it’s “professional.”
“You have to be professional,” said Wendy, who started working at Einstein in 1993 and is currently the facilities supervisor for the Price Center/Block Research Pavilion.
“We keep things professional,” said Junior in a separate interview. He started working at Einstein in 1988 and is currently the lead carpenter for facilities management and engineering.
“At the work place, we keep things professional,” echoed Christina, who started working at Einstein in 2008 and is currently an administrative assistant in anatomy and structural biology, during her interview as well.
The trio has kept things so professional, that most of their Einstein colleagues had no idea Junior and Wendy are married, or that Christina is their daughter.
“Until now, most people here wouldn’t know we’re a family,” said Wendy. “We’re old school,” she explained. “We walk into work together, but once we’re inside, we keep family and work separate.”
“We’re a close-knit family,” added Christina. “But when we pass each other on Main Street, or have interdepartmental dealings, it’s not ‘Hi, mom’ or ‘Hi, dad,’ it’s ‘Hi, Wanda, ‘Hi, Junior,’ and ‘Hi, Christina.’”
When they’re at work, it’s time to work. That’s the Torres and Santiago way.
A Second Home
Einstein has become the Torres and Santiago family’s second home. Their history at the College of Medicine dates back to the late 1960s, when there were only a few buildings along Morris Park Avenue. Junior’s uncle Effrain Galan was the first family member to be employed at Einstein. He worked in engineering from 1968 to 1996.
In 1972, he advised his brother-in-law, Gabriel Torres, Sr., to look for work at Einstein. The senior Gabriel was a senior animal caretaker in the Institute for Animal Studies from 1972 to 1997.
Gabriel Sr. is now 86 and battling some health issues, but he still regularly brags to his doctors about the work he did at Einstein tending to various animals and making sure all were well cared for.
The Torres and Santiago family has seen their second home change a lot over the years. Junior has loved being part of the expansion.
“Not only have I seen the campus grow, I personally took part in building it,” he said. “I’m very proud of that.”
May 17—A Fateful Date
When Wendy started working at Einstein in 1994, she was the only female employee in the Institute for Animal Studies. One day, she noticed Junior and a colleague of hers looking through a window at her.
“Someone told me there was an animal loose in the room and I should take a look. When I saw they were trying to get me to look at Wendy, who was alone in the room, I was embarrassed.”
Wendy added, “I gave them one of those looks that say, ‘Don’t you have work to do?’” Junior apologized profusely. Then he asked Wendy for a date. That was May 17, 1994.
A year to the date later, on May 17, 1995, they married. “Love is love,” she said. “We’ve been together ever since.”
Christina grew up around Einstein, which came in handy when applying for jobs. “In my interview, I was a nervous wreck,” she said. “But I also felt at home because during my interview I would glance out the window to the bridge that connects Forchheimer and Chanin, where my mom worked at the time, and it would bring me solace. I’ve been coming to this campus since I was 8 years old.”
She noted that there can be perks to working at the same place as your mom and dad. “One time, my car was plowed in, but my father got his car out, so I said, ‘I guess I’m going to work with you,’” she laughed.
Their paths cross often. “There are times where Junior comes to the Price Center/Block Pavilion on a work order to fix something, so that’s pretty fun because I get to be the boss here,” said Wendy with a laugh.
“Sometimes it’s hard,” acknowledged Junior. “I obviously don't want to get written up by my own wife for poor work performance.”
The Torres and Santiago legacy at Einstein could soon extend further. Wendy and Gabriel’s younger daughter, Waverliey, recently graduated from Lehman College with a major in biology and her family is encouraging her to look at Einstein job listings.
“She knows she’ll always have a ride,” joked Christina.
Editor’s Note: This story introduces a new story category for Inside Einstein, called Einstein’s Relativity. These stories will share interesting and even compelling connections between or among members of our Einstein community. In this introductory story, we share the “relativity” of the Torres and Santiago family. Do you know of a story that should be considered as a possible Einstein’s Relativity offering? Then, please submit your suggestion using “Ask Einstein!” to let us know!
Posted on: Wednesday, January 08, 2020