25, No. 9, Nov. 3, 2005
the Job: Mike Wood
Sharita Forrest, Assistant Editor
photo to enlarge
by L. Brian Stauffer
Known to many as "Mike the light bulb guy,"
Mike Wood works as a laborer-electrician in the Facilities
and Services Division.
Known as “Mike
the light bulb guy” to some employees on the Urbana campus, Mike
Wood’s amiable manner and ready smile help illuminate the 30 buildings
in his work zone as much as the work he does as a laborer-electrician.
Before joining the staff of Facilities and Services Division (then known
as the Operation and Maintenance Division) in 1987, Wood worked as a
bank teller, a hospital orderly, a teacher’s aide/bus driver/custodian
at a day-care center, an auditor/accountant with the state of Illinois
and a landscaper/physical fitness instructor/movie projectionist with
the Champaign Park District. A graduate of Champaign Central High School
and the appliance/motor repair program of Stills Electric Co., in Decatur,
Wood studied business and other subjects at Parkland College and at
the UI. He has volunteered with many organizations – as a youth
mentor in local schools and as a board member of the National Council
of African-American Men, among others – but he has a special affinity
for the Champaign Park District, where he began working as a volunteer
during high school and eventually became an employee. “I found
my love in the community working for the park district,” working
with youth and with elderly people, said Wood, who also sits on the
board of Community Blood Services of Illinois and has donated more than
20 gallons of blood.
As a laborer-electrician, what do you
I provide lighting in my area, Zone B, which is the heart of campus:
Altgeld Hall, Swanlund, etc. We have six zones and one or two people
per zone. I change fluorescent, incandescent and mercury vapor bulbs
in light fixtures in classrooms, offices, hallways and other places.
And I get different work orders and have to go check things out. Maybe
someone hears a fixture buzzing, or it’s flickering or they notice
leaking or a burning odor. I’ll check the ballast and sometimes
tag it so a trouble-shooter electrician can come out and check it. We
also clean and upgrade fixtures.
We start work at 7 a.m. so I can get into conference rooms or classrooms
before the students or staff members get there.
What do you enjoy most?
It’s rewarding meeting people. I have to say the faculty members
and staff members enjoy my services and take good care of me, giving
me goodies when they have parties. We also have a great staff and a
What hobbies do you have or what do you enjoy doing when you’re
not at work?
My hobby would be working with people in the community. I’ve been
the union steward for more than five years now for AFSCME Local 698
in electric shop 1. I went to AFSCME’s conference in Springfield
I recently went on a five-day cruise to Jamaica and Puerto Rico with
my girlfriend on Carnival Cruise Line’s Imagination ship. We beat
the hurricane; it was a little behind us, but the ship’s captain
rerouted us a little because of it. Unfortunately, it was some type
of holiday in Jamaica and many things were shut down, but we went sightseeing
and took in all the historic sites and went snorkeling, swimming and
parasailing. The people were nice, but the vendors were very aggressive
and would grab me by the hand and pull me over to look at the stuff
in their booths.
There was a group of about 60 of us who went together, and I got a chance
to meet a lot of different people. Just the idea of being on the Caribbean
was wonderful. It is just fascinating how big these ships are. The food
was wonderful, especially the jerk chicken. I brought back a lot of
souvenirs, shirts and stuff.
This was my second cruise. On the first cruise, I went to Cozumel, Mexico.
I have a 22-year-old son and a 23-year-old daughter, who reside in a
suburb of Atlanta.
I try to stay in shape and work out at the Intramural Physical Education
Building for about 90 minutes at a time. I use the treadmill, the stationary
bike and then go to the pool and tread water for 20 minutes. That works
out all the muscles.