Born and raised on Manhattan's Lower East Side, Juilliard security officer Melissa Espinar went to Murray Bergtraum High School. She played basketball in junior high and high school, and still loves to play—and trash talk—with her son, Robert, who's 15. They live in the Bronx with Melissa's fiancée, Stephanie Moro, Juilliard's assistant box office manager, and their cockapoo, Max. Prior to starting at Juilliard in the spring, Espinar was a security officer at the Durst Organization. She has also worked in sales and marketing at the Ride, a theater tour bus that leaves out of Times Square and provides participants with an interactive, technology-driven and live performing-arts experience.
What is the strangest or most memorable job that you've ever had?
Working at the Ride [the Times Square performance tour bus]—there are actors, dancers, and musicians on it, and they perform at different landmarks throughout midtown. What made it so memorable were the people I worked with and the high-tech tour bus itself. People just stop and stare in amazement when they see it and the people performing on the street.
How did you end up working there?
I was walking down 42nd Street and saw it—I was interested, so I just started asking questions and then ended up applying for a job and working there.
What's been your favorite aspect of working at Juilliard?
Working here as a security officer has been a great experience. The faculty, staff, and students have been very welcoming and friendly. I truly enjoy greeting everyone every morning, and I embrace the smiles and “good mornings” I receive in return.
What might people be surprised to know about you?
I'm a thrill seeker. I enjoy insane roller coasters, zip lining, haunted houses, and I'm eager to go skydiving, but I haven't had an opportunity to yet.
What's your favorite roller coaster?
Probably the Nitro at Six Flags, which is 190 feet in the air. Or the Slingshot in Atlantic City.
Do you remember your first roller coaster ride?
It was probably the Cyclone, when I was about 12 years old. I went with my mom.
If, out of the blue, your boss said to take the day off, what would you do with your free time?
I'd go to Six Flags with my family—I haven't been for a while, which is a little upsetting.
What would you go on first?
I believe they have a new ride called the Joker—I'd try that first if it's still around!
What was the best vacation you've had and what made it so special?
Hands down, it was earlier this year: Las Vegas, Nevada, where we stayed at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. Among the many experiences we had were going up the Eiffel Tower, riding the High Roller, which is the largest Ferris wheel in United States, walking two and a half miles around the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and going to see a Jennifer Lopez concert. And what made it so special was being able to share this amazing experience with my fiancée.
So what is it that makes you enjoy roller coasters—and zip lining and possibly skydiving—so much?
The thrill of doing things you never thought you could do is just awesome.