by Celeste Hippolyte '15
"First-years are required to work in Dining Services."
I heard this statement more than 100 times during my orientation week in August 2011. I had come to Dickinson knowing that I wanted to work on campus, partly because I needed the extra money but more so because I wanted to meet new people. So I signed up for the evening rush-hour shift, 6-8 p.m., three days a week at The Quarry. I would occasionally sub for someone who had an organic chemistry test the next day or who couldn’t make it to work because they had the flu.
It was during my evening shift that I met Emily Smith, the lead cash-operations supervisor. She would come in with her flowing blond hair and huge smile, hang up her jacket on the coat rack opposite the women’s bathroom and walk in to the deli with her hair tied up in a bun. We’d talk about everything while making lattes and wheat wraps, and she soon became someone I could go to and with whom I could share intimate stories.
For a lot of students, working in dining services during their first year is their first actual job, and the bonds that are formed with the adult workers are often students’ introduction to Dickinson culture. Whether that bond is built over the mutual dread of making yet another green-tea bubble tea or accidentally brewing water instead of coffee, the adult workers create an environment where students feel like they have a family away from home.
And as I started subbing for other student workers, I met the other women supervisors and built close relationships with them as well: Kay Kling, Sue Holloway, Sharon McGlade and Smith were my mothers during my first year at Dickinson. They looked after me as if I were their child.
Holloway, who has been working at Dickinson for more than 21 years, well before The Quarry became what we know it to be today, had worked at Racks restaurant in Carlisle before coming to Dickinson and worked her way up from part-time attendant to cash-operations supervisor. “My duties are to make sure the place runs smoothly every day,” she says. “So when problems arise, I have to take care of them and direct everybody to what needs to be done and how to do it.” She has seen Dickinson evolve into a more diverse community and played a vital role in transforming the dining experience on campus.
“I wanted to be a part of the culture,” adds McGlade, cash-operations attendant. McGlade had worked as a teller at M&T Bank before joining Dickinson. “I love the culture here and being with the kids.”
Kling chimes in: “The togetherness and teamwork with the other workers and the students is the best part about working at The Quarry,” she says. “I mean, the students think that I’m strict and unfriendly because of this face I always make.” She purses her lips, squints her eyes and holds her face still for about five seconds.
“But once you get to know me,” she says with a smile, “you find out that I’m really not that bad.”
When I became an upperclassman, I did what all upperclassmen do: I didn’t work in dining services anymore. I worked at the Office of Admissions, and I studied abroad in Norwich, England, but The Quarry and the women there were still my family. I’d come in and, even after not seeing me for an entire semester, they would know exactly what I wanted to order. They asked me about my study-abroad experience or scolded me when I didn’t come in to check on them from time to time.
Recently, while I was grabbing a straw for my mango smoothie, I spied Kling having a conversation with another student about his study-abroad experience. And then Holloway tagged in, joking around like she did with me. It was then that I realized that there were many students who had strong connections with them and had viewed them as family the same way I did.
Holloway recalls one student who “one day just started calling me Grandma. And I’ve been her grandma ever since.”
“She gets very upset when Sue’s not here,” says McGlade.
Working and interacting with students is something that all four women cherish. “It’s been interesting to get to know you and see you grow,” says Smith. “Seeing you from your fresh, little, green selves coming into college with big doe eyes in headlights, and then to see you find yourselves, it’s been amazing.”
What was your first-year experience working in dining services? Send your memories (of 50 words or fewer) to firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion in a future issue of Dickinson Magazine.
Published July 22, 2014