Joining a Community: My Relationships With Kenyon Staff

As a prospective student, when you think about coming to college and meeting people, you’re mostly imagining your future peers and professors. Without a doubt, those people are a big part of your college experience. But I did not understand how much of an impact the staff at Kenyon, the people who work here but who aren’t professors, would have on my daily life. Among others, the Peirce Dining Hall staff have had a particular impact on me during my time here. There are quite a few staff members in Peirce whom I really appreciate, and I’d like to share a story about Lisa Carver.

A week before Valentine’s Day my freshman year, I was in Walmart buying Nutri-Grain bars, and I decided to walk through the candy aisle. With nervous excitement, I bought two boxes of Scooby Doo-themed cardboard Valentine’s cards (the kind second graders bring to school to exchange) and a big bag of candy with the plan to give them to friends. Looking back, this was definitely a semi-embarrassing, freshman-year move, but I was having fun at the time. I decided to give a Valentine to Lisa, who was working the vegetarian station in Peirce. She jumped up with a big smile, ran around the counter and gave me a big hug. I was the first student to give her a card on Valentine’s Day, and she was overjoyed by this small act of gratitude.

Every day at Peirce, Lisa asks me how I’m doing; she’s got a big, contagious smile that has often been a catalyst for turning around any bad day I may be having. If you ask her how she remains so positive and supportive towards us day-in and day-out, she’ll tell you that she feels like a second mom to the Kenyon students in the dining hall. We’re all away from our parents, and she wants to help support us like our moms would if they were here. Every year on Valentine’s Day, Lisa finds me to give me a hug. She’s actually kept my tiny Scooby-Doo themed cardboard card from my freshman year in her collection of cards from students.

As a high schooler imagining what college life would be like, I had not put any thought into the relationships I would build outside of the classroom with people who weren’t also students. I had thought of college as this place where you go and take classes and work in laboratories and do other serious, academic stuff. And while all of that is true, the reality of coming to Kenyon is that you are joining a community of people who are also actively choosing to spend time atop this hill in rural Ohio. You’re going to have relationships with professors, sure, but you’re also going to get to know the people who ring you up at the bookstore, serve meals in the dining hall, clean and maintain the dorms, etc. These relationships are a big part of what makes this place special. Kenyon staff are here because they care about Kenyon students, and I am so grateful for the work they do to make this place run the way it does.