The day after Mayra Rocha retired from her job at the Speer Memorial Library, she was back in the office. With her 10-month-old daughter by her side, Rocha multitasked — packing up her belongings, calming the occasionally fussy baby and answering questions about her 24-year tenure with the library.
Rocha started working at Speer Memorial in 1999 with a part-time job while attending Mission High School. But growing up, she said she was a regular at the library.
“I was a nerd back in the day,” Rocha said with a laugh. “I was one of those students that was like top 10, so I would do my homework and use the computer. So I really did use the library and read the books and use the resources. It was a different time but that’s how I started here.”
The Missionite kept her job through college, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in finance. Rocha said she thought she would end up working in numbers. But eventually, through a grant, she received her master’s in library science. Since then, she moved up the ranks to become the Speer Memorial Library director.
“That grant shifted my future,” Rocha said. “I thought I was going to be in business but I ended up staying here.”
During her tenure, she saw a shift to technology, the utilization of more Spanish material and the implementation of various programs, which eventually became the library’s driving force.
But at age 41, and with 24 years of work under her belt, Rocha was able to retire. The Texas Municipal Retirement System states that any city employee with 20 years of service credits is eligible for retirement, so Rocha decided on a change of scenery.
Several things in her personal life lined up for her to make the decision. But ultimately, Rocha wanted to spend more time with her family.
“It’s an opportunity to spend more time with this baby girl,” she said in a cooing voice to her daughter. “The time that I didn’t really get to spend with my two older boys because I was always working, I will be able to now spend it with this little one.”
Rocha said her husband also left his job in January, and now both can dedicate time to the family and the family business — a liquidation bin store called Discount Days. The shop has locations in McAllen, Harlingen and soon Edinburg and Peñitas.
In addition to the family business, Rocha said she plans to join the Hidalgo County Library System, which holds monthly meetings to discuss happenings in the library sector from a patron perspective. The retiree wants to remain involved and keep in contact with her network. And somewhere down the road, when her children are older, she said would consider rejoining the City of Mission staff.
But even in her retirement, Rocha said she and her family are never too far from Speer.
“I’m going to miss it. This is practically my only job, everything I know. But I know that the library is in good hands,” she said. “We bought a house here, like two minutes away, so I’m going to be here for all the programs. My little kids love coming to the library programs, so I’m going to continue coming to the library, just as a patron, not an employee.”