Spotlight: Operator speaks in words, music
When Hospital Communications Operator Roger Banks starts his workday at U-M Hospital, there's no time to ease in; he just dives headfirst.
"It's really rewarding to help the customers who are upset or need assistance," he says. "In most cases, the person is appreciative that someone has taken the time to assist them."
Off the job, Banks has written a gospel-flavored musical and a novel.
The 1978 graduate of Willow Run High School briefly attended Eastern Michigan University to pursue a degree in theater and piano. "As I got older I was able to play music by ear," he says. "I decided music was something I wanted to go to school for."
After attending EMU, Banks managed several hair salons and also worked as a customer service representative for National Bank and Trust. Then in 1988 he began working as a computer operator for U-M.
Banks, who works afternoons out of the North Campus Administration Building, starts at 3:30 p.m. one of the most demanding times of the day. "I enjoy my job at U-M," he says. Though he thrives in the pressure situations of his job, has no trouble filling his free time.
"I love music and writing," says Banks. "I started singing as a kid in the church choir and I got into writing around the same time."
It was those two loves that helped him produce "On My Christian Journey," a gospel musical Banks started working on in 1978 that went into production in 1990. The musical, which included 21 original scores, was performed 10 times at Ypsilanti High School.
Following "On My Christian Journey," Banks continued writing, this time focusing on novels. "The Black Don Juan," the first of 10 novels he's written, was published in December 2007. It tells the story of a man's dysfunctional childhood, which steers him down a path of sexual conquest and womanizing.
" 'Don Juan' is about the mother/son relationship," Banks says. "Family values have always been important to me and both sides come out in the story."
One of the lessons Banks has learned from his varied professional and personal endeavors is not to "take the stress with you," he says.
It's a lesson he applies to his day job. "I take on all types of calls: answering service, permission, severe weather and rapid response. I route calls, swap out pagers and act as a third-party representative for (UMS) doctors and nurses; that's not stress you need to take home," Banks says. "I try to focus on the positives for whatever I am doing."
When he isn't working at the hospital or writing, Banks spends time with his family and at his parish. For 25 years, Banks has been a member of the New Testament Baptist Church in Ypsilanti. "I've been a musician at the church for a while, it's definitely time I enjoy," he says.
Banks, who enjoys spending time with his nieces and nephews; says he hopes to convey an important message across to them based on his own life experiences: "Work hard in life and all dreams are obtainable," he says.
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