Five Questions with Angelica Figueroa

Angelica Figueroa brings her love of theme parks to the Gillings School.


Angelica proudly sports a radio clipped to her collar - a memory of her time as a theme park superviser. (Contributed photo)

During her years as a theme park supervisor, Angelica wore a radio at all times. (Contributed photo)

Name: Angelica Figueroa
Position: Executive assistant, Dean’s Office
Years at Gillings: Five


What I do at Gillings (and why I love it): I support the dean and manage the front office. We interact with so many people – we’re basically the welcoming committee for the School.

My favorite thing about this job is that I love the people I work with. I think they are warm, caring, funny… just amazing! Liking the people on your team is one of the most important parts of job satisfaction. Work-wise, what I like most is the huge variety of tasks I’m faced with day to day. I thrive under the pressure of problem solving, and it keeps me interested. When I was hired at the Gillings School, I was told that a past job experience as a supervisor at a theme park would come in handy. Crazily enough, the experience translates really well!


A perfect day for me: would start with my husband, Matt, and I getting up early and going to the farmers market. After enjoying breakfast, we’d head to White Pines Nature Preserve, which is one of my favorite spots to walk trails and just be outside. Then we’d drive around Sanford, a nearby town with a great small, Southern vibe and neat architecture. Finally, we’d stop in Pittsboro to visit the soda shop and browse the vintage stores in town. What I really love best is just spending time in cool environments – eating, exploring, getting a feel for a place. I love to walk around and explore downtown areas. I feel like walking generates some of the best conversations.


My favorite band is: Taking Back Sunday. I was a total emo kid in the early 2000s, and I’ve seen them in concert nine or 10 times. I always stand in the very back – no dancing, I’m not a mosher – I just want to be there and sing along. In my opinion, their best show was the 10-year anniversary tour for the album “Tell All Your Friends.” The emo kid in me was super happy.


Given the choice to have anyone over for dinner, I would invite: my grandmother. She is 94 and has dementia. Last time I visited her in Puerto Rico, she didn’t really remember who I was. It would be nice to share a meal and just talk with her.


Angelica (in the neon colors) takes a behind-the-scenes roller coaster tour. (Contributed photo)

Angelica (second from left) takes a behind-the-scenes roller coaster tour. (Contributed photo)

Something most people don’t know about me is: A lot of people know I worked at a theme park, but I don’t think folks really know what I did. I was a senior area supervisor for the guest arrival team, which means ticket sales, guest entry, guest relations and complaints, and lost and found all reported to me. During peak season, I oversaw about 200 team members in total. Average daily attendance during the summer sometimes hit 25,000 people, and they all had to come through our turnstiles! At the park, I learned leadership and customer service skills, patience and humility, all of which translate really well into any environment — especially the Dean’s Office.

A weird side effect of working as a theme park supervisor for more than six years is that my mind learned to speak in 10-codes. We used radios to communicate, and there were tons of frequencies and people on the air at all times. We had to use some predetermined codes to keep things clear (10-76 means you’re on your way, 10-6 means you’re busy, etc.), but we also made up our own codes for fun. My mind still operates with 10-codes. If I tell you to 10-22 something, that means to disregard it!

I worked at the park for 10 years, starting when I was 16 years old. It really shaped who I am as a person, employee and supervisor. It also made me a theme park nerd! I wish I had more visits under my belt, especially to the Midwest and West Cost parks, but I’m definitely building toward it. My all-time favorite ride is Alpengeist at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and my second-favorite is Space Mountain at Walt Disney World.