There's something magnetic about these Concordians.
While the staffers below may serve the students and employees of Concordia in a variety of ways, each one is consistent in their infectious personalities. Our Concordia community overwhelmingly agrees that their service to the school is top notch. It’s not uncommon to see them go beyond their diligent duties to take the time to enrich the lives of all those they encounter.
If you haven’t met them already, look for these friendly faces at CUW and read on to learn more about why they love to serve at Concordia.
Students look forward to eating in CUW’s Siebert Dining Hall not only because they are hungry college students. Many laud the bonus of having a chance to talk to Gretchen. Among her duties for working for Dining Services, she is the one who helps students check in to the cafeteria with their ‘meal swipe’.
“I love being stationed at the counter where I work at the front of the cafeteria,” Gretchen says. “From here I can see students give random acts of kindness. They are all great people. I really see Jesus in these students. The reason I am friendly is because I always return the same attitude that students bring.”
Mary plays a central part in keeping our buildings as pristine and beautiful as we know them to be. There’s a reason some students engage in a lighthearted competition to be the first to say “hello” to her in the morning. She always makes it a point to talk to students and brighten their day.
“It makes me feel light and happy,” Mary says. Mary has a distinct motivation- she says she can’t stand to see students sad.
Mary recounts a story of one day when she was going about her work and she spotted a student walking by crying. In true Mary fashion, she had a flower on the ready.
“I could see her face light up and it made me so happy to be able to have that kind of impact on another person,” Mary says. Mary strongly believes that all people should feel at home at CUW.
Mario expertly heads up Concordia’s Campus Safety operations and he does a fantastic job in this role. Twice over in recent years, Concordia has received recognition for being a safe campus. One survey ranked Concordia the safest college campus in the state and another placed it as second safest in the nation.
What’s really admirable though is that Mario maintains this excellence with a smile and a deep concern for all Concordians.
“I think it is extremely important that students know who’s here for their safety so that they feel comfortable on campus,” Mario says.
John Wichman’s first encounter with Concordia was as a pizza delivery man. In 1985, when John was in high school, he would frequent Concordia’s campus on his delivery routes. On one of his visits, his vehicle overheated right under the overpass to Wittenberg residence hall. Students immediately jumped at the opportunity to help him. This stuck with him–that the people here are truly great.
Fast forward two years, John was in search of a job with insurance benefits, as he would soon be getting married. His girlfriend read in the paper about a maintenance job, of all places, at Concordia. Recalling his experience with the kindhearted students, he didn’t hesitate to apply. John has now been 34 years on the job and works each day to return the kindness that he once received from Concordians.
What has kept him invested in the university and serving students is his appreciation for the fervent faith at Concordia. It brings him joy to see faculty and students “reap the fruits of the Holy Spirit” and find joy in living Christ-centered lives.
“It really is what makes us uncommon,” he says. “In the world you can see sadness and anger growing, but here at Concordia we live in our own sanctuary.”
When you see John navigating the university on his auto-sweeper, don’t be afraid to start a conversation. You may just learn about Concordia’s history, from the man who has seen it grow firsthand.
Larry works in both Concordia’s BBC coffee spot located in the library and The Landing, our go-to café and sandwich option for on-campus dining. Students love the personal attention and respect that Larry shows to everyone.
“One of my favorite things about interacting with students is seeing the freshmen–watching them grow throughout their years, and then seeing them as seniors and grad students,” says Larry. “Students here are down-to-earth and great to talk to.” Larry knows students by name and treats them like family, often calling them “niece” or “nephew” because, as he says, students should feel like they have a family away from home.
— Kai Goldenstein is a student writer and senior year Social Work major, minoring in German
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