Administrative Assistant Finds Time to Garden and Travel
By Kristine King
February 27, 2008
Chris Van Horn photo
In the past year, administrative assistant BJ Plantamuro has discovered
Tai Chi, a hobby that she has admitted will be a lifelong endeavor.
There is no doubt she will commit to it with similar dedication she has
shown UNH for the past 30 years.
Plantamuro started at UNH in 1973 as an office worker in accounts
"I worked there for about two or three years and wasn't much older then
the students," Plantamuro says.
Later she took a job at the MUB, processing paper work for the two
managers of the cafeteria. Plantamuro was then ready to break away from
UNH, and in 1986 she left to see what the "outside world was like."
"It was fine," Plantamuro says, "but my life was changing drastically:
divorce, kids growing up and new apartment. After eight years, I came
back to UNH where at least some things were the same. I found a position
in the office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs."
This is where, under three different provosts, Plantamuro has worked for
the past 12 years. It is a demanding job that involves balancing
calendars for many of the professionals in the office including the
provost and executive vice president. She also schedules numerous
meetings for different administrators and, each year, organizes the new
faculty orientation. In addition to general office duties, Plantamuro
also supports the dean searches, and this past year was a main support
for the WSBE dean search.
"I find it interesting to work in the main administrative office. I
really enjoy the environment and all my co-workers," said Plantamuro.
A graduate of Portsmouth High, Plantamuro attended UNH for a semester,
majoring in marine biology. Her pursuit of a higher education was put on
hold in 1967, however, when she married a Navy corpsman who was then
sent to Vietnam. After his return, the couple had two sons and moved to
Now, many years later, Plantamuro has returned to UNH not only as a
professional but as a student as well. The renewed opportunity to
continue her education is what Plantamuro enjoys the most about working
"I love the benefit of being able to take classes. I don't take them
often, but when I do the experience is so much better than when I 'had'
to take them in school," says Plantamuro.
Plantamuro has also taken and helped produce transformational courses
for Landmark Education, Inc., a global educational enterprise offering
courses that are innovative, effective and immediately relevant. The
group's leading-edge methodology enables people to produce extraordinary
results and enhance the quality of their lives
"I find it exhilarating to look into why I do what I do. The insights
I've had about myself have helped me move through life and handle all
its ups and downs," Plantamuro says.
"In the last 10 years, I have discovered gardening, a great, artistic
way to be outside. I still don't always have luck keeping things alive
so I've created a new garden project - I purchased a kit to make
bricks," she says. "The kit came with letters (like little branding
irons) so you can put sayings, dates, names, etc. on your bricks before
they set up. I plan to personalize a brick for each of my family
She has also collected a lot of inspirational sayings that speak to her
and will put them on some of the bricks, adding a personal touch to her
garden. Another project she has in mind is to find plants that have the
same name as her family members and incorporate them into the garden.
"This is a new project, so I only have a phlox called 'Nikki' for my
daughter-in-law who was killed in a car crash several years ago. If
anyone reading this has any plants named Charlotte, Sarah, Thomas,
Gabriel, Nathan, Zachary or George, I'd love to know where you got
them," Plantamuro says.
To get away from it all, Plantamuro and her husband make a commitment to
travel to Mexico each year for two weeks of relaxation.
"The hardest decisions I have to make are, 'what bathing suit will I
wear today and which restaurant shall we have dinner in?" she says.
Along with taking time for herself, Plantamuro dotes on her six
grandchildren, two of whom live with her. Being a mother figure the
second time around has its challenges.
"We always wanted girls, but now I'm not sure why-the drama is
overwhelming," Plantamuro says. "Between homework, chauffeuring,
girlfriend overnights, the music and singing so loud they could be
auditioning, and constantly trying to tone down the make-up, I've come
to really appreciate the sons I raised. But I am grateful to have them;
they are all keeping me young."