I strive to one day become David Gies.

By Julie Roa

During the Summer 2014 voyage of Semester at Sea, I got to sail as David’s Registrar.  What an amazing summer that was!  Having studied at the University of Virginia and then worked there for many years, I was well familiar with the name, but I hadn’t had too many chances to interact with David.  He always cracked me up in his speeches, I knew of his many accomplishments and once I even came by his office to introduce myself and ask why he didn’t come to more of our events (I ran the Multicultural office for Student Affairs), but it wasn’t until I got to live and work with him out at sea, that I understood what all the fuss is about.

David taught me to have fun while getting things done.  We had a big job and we often faced some serious things, but David’s approach is always light-hearted.  There was nothing that could take that great smile off of his face.  He led with grace and humor, always pointing to the bright side, and if there wasn’t one readily available, he’d say something wise like “if it hasn’t worked out, it’s not the end yet.”  When issues came up with students, fellow professors, missing books, change of plans or anything, he simply asked smart questions, gave options, encouraged and inspired. Offering wine always helped too!  One of the many things I loved about working with him was feeling his trust for the whole team, his genuine respect for absolutely everyone he encountered (even people who are not his favorites) and the fact that he always seemed to have time!  I couldn’t believe it.  He’s so prolific and involved in so many things, a friend of everyone and an active support for many, and yet he had the time to just sit and get to know me.  I felt that he is invested in everyone’s success.  David cheers people on, he builds people up, he openly offers knowledge, love and care.  It was such a joy to get to know him. I honestly strive to become him one day.

Early on in our voyage, I asked him what the secret to his success was.  He said that he naps daily.  In the four years since, I have enjoyed a blissful nap every day after lunch, and I preach the benefits of this practice to anyone who will listen.  Thank you David.  May our friendship always be strong.  I’m so glad we’re now neighbors!