FOGARTY: Sodexo staff exhibits ‘cura personalis’ best

Sodexo employees create a welcoming environment for Marquette students. Photo via twitter.com/sodexoUSA

Sodexo employees create a welcoming environment for Marquette students. Photo via twitter.com/sodexoUSA

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For 12 years before coming to Marquette, my morning routine was the same: I would get up, make breakfast and talk with my parents and siblings before booking it to school. I would usually wake up to my mom singing in the kitchen with a spatula in hand, and my dad cracking jokes to my sleepy siblings. Waking up to my hilarious and friendly family set a foundation of optimism and eagerness for the day ahead, and I tried to model this attitude in each interaction I’d have throughout the day.

In the weeks preceding my first day of college, I realized I wouldn’t have these mornings to share with my family anymore. Assuming that I would not have this morning ritual in college, I wonder how it would affect my school days. Upon arriving in the dining hall on my first day of classes, however, the Sodexo staff greet me with energy paralleled to that of mornings with my family.

That first day stands out to me because the staff was so unapologetically welcoming. The employee swiping IDs gave each student a smile, welcomed us to Marquette and wished us good luck on our first day of classes. Their kind welcome not only calmed my nerves on my first day of school, but it also made me genuinely excited to go to class and be a part of the Marquette community.

Now when I groggily walk into the dining hall before heading to my 9 a.m. class, a smiling face always greets me as I swipe in, reminding me that there are people supporting my academic life in each corner of the campus. Other times, Sodexo employees swiping student IDs will introduce themselves or ask me about my classes and weekend plans. The Sodexo employees who I have gotten to know show genuine interest in me. The interactions I’ve had with them have taken the place of those I had with my family and are always a positive start to my day.

Though these conversations may be a trivial part of the college experience for students, they’ve proven to be the most welcoming aspect of university life so far to me. Out of all areas of campus life, Sodexo employees embody “cura personalis,” care for the whole person, most effectively.

For example, emails about SPARK, a program that summer welcomes new students to Marquette and facilitates course enrollment. Freshman Orientation depicts both programs to be filled with epic fun, new people and an unparalleled welcome committee.

However, the dining halls’ environment executes this welcome better than any structured program has.

The sincerity of the Sodexo staff makes a difference. They show that simple kindness can be infectious and welcoming even more so than a plethora of preplanned and overwhelming activities.

When I think back to SPARK, my homesickness is what I think of. SPARK seemed to lack genuine conversation and connection among students, which creates an awkward group dynamic. Group activities included ice breakers or school policy discussions, but never discussed individual students and their majors or aspirations. This made it feel as if I was being thrown into my college experience, as opposed to being invited and welcomed by the university.

Luckily, the Sodexo staff provided that welcome for me on my first day of classes, and have continued to do so throughout this first month of school.  The service and obvious interest the employees show in each individual student is a direct example of Marquette’s motto and values. Sodexo employees show how small acts of kindness can help students get through a busy school day, and how being kind is what makes Marquette feel like home. Everyone at Marquette must show a positive attitude to promote connection among staff, faculty, and students to better the Marquette community altogether.

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