What did you do last night?
I went shopping with a friend and then we had a nice dinner.
What do you usually eat for breakfast?
I eat Cheerios with yogurt. I know it sounds gross, but it is actually rather tasty!
How many hours a night do you sleep?
On average, I get about 6-7 hours of sleep.
What is your favorite hour of the day/night and why is it your favorite?
My favorite hour of the night is 11pm. This is the time when I am all comfy in bed and I get to read for leisure.
Where do you live now?
I live in Washington, DC.
Why did you move there?
My job brought me to DC.
Do you like living there? Explain.
I love living in the district. What is there not to love? It is the nation’s capital. There are many great places to eat; there are a lot of things to see and do; there is always something going on; and public transport is great. I must admit the only thing that I dislike about the district is the humidity in the summer. I am not a happy camper on very humid days. Oh I almost forgot, there is one addition minor limitation -- this is one expensive city to live in. Housing, food, and drinks are expensive, but it all balances out by the numerous free museums in town.
What did you do the years right after high school?
I attended Cal State Bakersfield. I graduated with a BA in Sociology in 1991 and then I went off to the University of Michigan for a MA and PhD in Sociology. I also completed a post-doc in Nursing at the University of Michigan. I truly enjoyed my time in Ann Arbor and did not want to leave!
Tell us about your family? Kids? Spouses? Lovers? Partners? Divorces?
My family (dad, mom, sister and brother) live in Bakersfield. I am the only one who lives outside of California. It is not easy being away from my family, but I try to visit as often as I can. I have remained single.
Do you have a job outside of your home?
Yes, I am Assistant Director of Individual Fellowships, Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development, at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. The federal government likes short titles!
Do you like your job?
Yes, I do like my job a lot. It is very stressful, but somehow I don’t mind. The stress keeps me on my toes and I am never bored. My supervisor is super cool and my co-workers are just the nicest people. I am really fortunate.
Is it the job you thought you would have when you were back in High School and you contemplated the future?
No, I never thought I would get a PhD. Plus, I never imagined that I would work for the federal government and live in the district. I envisioned that I would go to Cal State become a teacher and stay in Bakersfield.
If you could have any job in the world what would it be?
I am not sure about this. While at Cal State Bakersfield, I aspired to become a university president, now I would say…Secretary of Health and Human Services.
What was your happiest day last year?
I cannot pin point one day in the last year when I was the happiest, but I was one happy Wolverine when the University of Michigan beat Notre Dame at South Bend in September. GO BLUE!
What is your biggest regret from the last 20 years?
I don’t have any regrets. I do wish, however, I was closer to home to spend more time with my family. My parents are getting older and I wish I could get to see them more often. I also miss Nieves and Jesse a great deal. We just have a blast when we are together.
Do you miss high school? What things do you miss about it?
What is one of your favorite memories from high school?
One of my favorite memories is graduation. My parents gave me a car as a graduation gift. It was the first and only car I have ever owned.
What is one of your worst memories from high school?
I don’t have any.
Who were your best friends in high school?
My best friends were my sister (Nieves Rubio who is still one of my best friends) and Carmen Pinon.
Have you kept in touch with them?
Clearly, I have stayed in touch with my sister, but I did not so with Carmen.
How is your life different than the life you thought you would have after high school?
It is different in every way possible. I moved away from Bakersfield in 1991 and have not looked back. I am pleased that I have had the opportunity to meet people from all over and I have traveled to some of the places I have always wanted to visit. There are a few more places I would like to visit and they are certainly on my “things to do” list.
Who was your favorite teacher?
My favorite teachers were Dr. Pauley and Mr. Fontaine. I attribute my appreciation of Shakespeare to Dr. Pauley and my ability to F-O-I-L to Mr. Fontaine.
What was the biggest life lesson you learned in high school?
I would really have to think about this one…
Do you like answering these questions?
Do you have any tattoos? What are they?
What is your favorite food?
I enjoy Italian, Thai, and Sushi – I am currently a modified vegetarian (I don’t eat meat, but I do eat fish), and these cuisines provide me with options.
Are your parents still alive? How are they doing?
I am very blessed that my parents are alive. They live in Bakersfield and thank God they are well.
Are you happy with the way you look these days? Please explain.
Yes, I am content.
If you won the lottery what would you do with the money?
What kind of jack-pot are we talking about? Are we talking about peanuts or something obscene and offensive? If we go with obscene and offensive, then I would make sure my parents had enough money to live a comfortable retirement. I would pay off my sister’s mortgage. I would buy my brother a house. I would put some money away for my own retirement. I would not retire because I would get bored. I would certainly take some time off from work to travel and check off some of the places on my “things to do” list. I would buy a bigger place in DC. I might also get a couple of vacation homes one in Vail, Colorado and another in San Sebastian, Spain. I must I admit don’t ski, but I like the silence after a good snow storm. I don’t like sand between my toes, but I like looking into the vastness of the ocean. I would also give money to the various Catholic churches I have been a member of.
Now, if we are talking peanuts, then I would buy a cute new pair of shoes and put the rest of the money in my IRA account.
Are you religious? Spiritual? Agnostic? Is there a God?
Yes, I am religious. In fact, I am an alter server at Saint Matthew’s Catholic Cathedral in DC.
What do you watch on TV?
Law and Order, public television, Michigan football on Saturdays, and what ever is on when I am having a lazy evening.
What are your all-time favorite movies?
My favorite movies are Forrest Gump, When Harry Met Sally, Casa Blanca, Like Water for Chocolate, and Water.
In what ways have you changed the most from high school?
I am a modified vegetarian and in high school I would have never contemplated it. I also don’t go by Mercy anymore. My junior year in college I decided that I preferred to be addressed by my birth name—Mercedes. I have been Mercedes ever since.
In what ways are you the same from high school?
Not sure, I would have to think about this one…
Tell us about three of your happiest experiences since leaving high school.
The first was when I defended my dissertation and I became Dr. Rubio.
The second was my PhD graduation. My family and close friends were there to celebrate the day with me. It was a happy day indeed.
The third was when I purchased my condo. I must admit I was both happy and nervous. Who likes having a mortgage? That afternoon, I realized I had entered into a serious 30- year commitment and I was officially a full fledge adult.
What do you like most about yourself?
I like that I am a very independent woman and that I can laugh at myself.
What would you most like to change?
Nothing, except that it would be nice if DC was closer to Bakersfield, so I could spend more time with my family.
Do you talk on your cell phone while driving?
No, because I do not own a car. There is no need for a car in the district. The metro takes me everywhere I want to go.
Tell us something that very few people know about you.
I was photographed with President Bush and the First Lady at a Cinco de Mayo event at the White House. The framed picture is displayed in the entry way of my condo. My Republican friends like the picture and my Democrat friends see the irony and humor. Let’s just say it is often the topic of conversation when people come over.
Tell us something interesting about yourself that wasn't covered in the above questions.
I love to dance. I joined the Ballroom Dancing Club while at the University of Michigan and had a blast. Basically dancing kept me somewhat sane while I wrote my dissertation. Plus, I learned to waltz, fox-trot, mambo, swing, cha-cha, samba, etc. About 6 months ago, I took country dancing lessons at the Kennedy Center. I never know country dancing could be so much fun! In order to keep my dancing skills current I go Salsa dancing on Monday nights. There is nothing like telling sweaty guys that my name is Maria!