The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s on-campus food services may supply students with some much-needed nourishment, but for some of its employees, the job is about more than just a simple meal.
Angelina Narcisse, 96, has worked in UL Lafayette’s dining room for almost 70 years now, starting in 1958. Narcisse describes the job as a “home away from home,” and said she enjoys serving the students.
“We treat the people nicely, and I see to that, that the children are well-treated,” Narcisse said. “Because parents pay a lot of money to send the children here, and I like to see that they get what they deserve.”
Narcisse described the kinds of relationships she’s built with UL Lafayette’s students over the years. One student will even regularly visit her in the dining room and together they’ll discuss just about anything for an hour at a time.
“Sometimes I don’t know something and he looks it up on (his phone) and shows me the picture of things that I would like to know,” Narcisse said. “He’s just like my child. Right now I’m old but I’m still learning things that I didn’t know.”
Narcisse said she would like to work here for as long as she can, adding the job is “for he who wants to learn. He who wants to learn has a lot to learn here.”
Two other employees in the dining room — 47-year-old lead Kelly Victor and 42-year-old cook Kissi Webb — shared Narcisse’s sentiments. They both said they enjoy working and interacting with the students on a daily basis.
“I like to meet new people. I like to treat people with kindness, you know, smile, and it makes my day go good,” Victor said. “Some of (the students) do come up and early in the morning they’ll say good morning, and it makes your day. A lot of them we know by name, some of them we know by faces, and we treat them like our children.”
Webb has worked in the dining room on and off since 1996, and similarly, Victor has been there for over 20 years.
Victor added, “I just basically hope that all the students enjoy the food that we do prepare for them.”
But services exist beyond just the dining room. Lillian Citizen, 55, is a supervisor for The Brew, a cafe located in the Student Union. She’s worked with The Brew for a year and a half, but before that, she worked in a standup Starbucks location.
“It’s totally different from the standup Starbucks, which is the full-fledged ones,” Citizen said. “We deal with a lot of the customers but this is, to me it’s unique because we get to really engage with the students.
“We get to see them more than one time, so we really get to know them and their names and where they’re at and their studies and all that, so it’s a lot, the engaging is phenomenal.”
Citizen said she only wished she had found the job earlier, adding she enjoyed both the fast pace of the job and, again, her interactions with the students. She said she looks forward to seeing some of them and hearing how their day is going.
“And some it’s just to talk. Like something is going on at home, and they just need to talk to somebody, so we’re there for support as well, not just this job, and I think that’s what makes this job that much more enjoyable.”