By Erica Dunigan
As tired as students may be, when they enter the doors of the cafeteria in the morning, there is always a warm smiling face there to greet them. Leveda Bryce, Sodexo employee, welcomes each student by name as they enter the cafeteria for breakfast.
Bryce’s smile comes from her love of the job, her love of the students and her love of the people she meets every morning as they come through the breakfast line.
Bryce said, “I love this job because I deal with the best people in the world, the students. The people I work with in the morning are the nicest people I have ever met.”
After the semester ends, Bryce will have been working at Southwestern for eight years.
Harold Harris, director of food services, said Bryce has not missed more than five days of work in the eight years she has been here. Monday through Friday, Bryce starts her day at 6:30 a.m. and ends the day at 10:30 a.m.
Harris said, “Every day she arrives early to work. She is always here.”
Harris said that up until last year, Bryce also worked at local grade schools after she got off work. “She loves to be around the younger generation, and loves being a part of the community,” he said.
Before coming to Winfield, Bryce lived in Perry, Okla. She got her first job there at the age of 14. “I worked as a soda jerk,” said Bryce. “I worked behind the counter at our local Five & Dime. I served sodas and made malts.”
Growing up, Bryce imagined herself becoming a nurse. She graduated from high school and went to college in Tulsa, Okla.
“When I was a senior in high school I decided it would be best to pick another route,” said Bryce. “I still went to college to become a nurse, but after a year I decided what I truly wanted to do was become a secretary.”
After a few years in college, Bryce ended up getting a job as a legal secretary. Soon after getting the job, she got married.
Bryce first moved to Winfield in 1955 with her husband, who transferred here with an oil field company. “After a few years he would retire and we would start our own auto salvage,” said Bryce.
Bryce and her husband became very fond of Winfield and the community, but an unexpected turn of events caused Bryce to have to close down the family business. When her husband passed away, Bryce was forced to close the company. “It took me about a year to close up everything,” she said. “It was very hard for me to do, and even though I had my family there for support, I still didn’t like being lonely.”
Searching the newspaper for job openings, Bryce came across an ad for cafeteria help. “I wanted to find a job that would only have me work three to four hours a day,” said Bryce. She was hired by Sodexo. Harris said that anybody would be lucky to have her as an employee. She goes far beyond what is asked of her. “She makes sure to acknowledge everyone,” he said. “She rarely has to look down at the card to see what the person’s name is.”
For some students, the gesture goes far beyond a smile and greeting.
Mandy Bostwick, elementary education junior, said, “My day is instantaneously better when she greets me in the morning when I go for breakfast. I could be having the worst morning, and then when I see her, she reminds me of my grandma back home and I can’t help but smile.”
Bryce said that she recently decided to work for a couple more years in the cafeteria. “I’m very attached to my job,” she said. “I consider the students and workers a part of my family.”
Erica Dunigan is a junior majoring in convergent journalism. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.