By Alayna Simons
Assistant News Editor
“Thank ya baby, enjoy your lunch” is one of the prominent phrases students can expect to hear when walking into the cafeteria to swipe their ID. It is given with a smile and has shown to be impactful to students and faculty who have come to eat at the cafeteria.
Marian Leach, a Sodexo cashier who started working for the company in March of 2022, received a national award from Sodexo for her customer service.
“Marian is an amazing greeter who always brings a smile to my face when I walk through the cafeteria doors,” said an anonymous response from the employee appreciation survey. “She is so sweet and never passes up the opportunity to talk to me about my day every day. She brightens my day every day and always reminds me of how beautiful Trevecca is.”
According to Sodexo’s website, Sodexo currently employs around 422,000 workers and serves customers in 53 different countries. Sodexo separates schools they cater to into districts, with Trevecca being a part of a district that includes other universities like Lipscomb, Belmont, Lee and Fisk.
“She does an amazing job representing us, being the face of Sodexo for our customers,” said Ben Ramirez, the marketing manager for Sodexo.
Once a year, Sodexo takes the time to thank their employees and vote for one person to receive an award from the Thx Program, created in 2018, according to Sodexo’s website. Hashtags including #SodexoThanksU and #ThanksToThem are used nationwide to spread thanks to employees.
“Most jobs you’re really not appreciated, so for them to acknowledge that, it makes you feel really good,” said Leach.
In the middle of fall semester, signs with QR codes were hung, encouraging students and staff to vote for a favorite employee and leave a comment about the person they voted for.
“We encourage our staff to vote or to encourage other people to vote for them because they can win an incentive, and it’s a nice motivation for them,” said Ramirez.
Leach received 25 nominations and comments from students and faculty.
“She always has a positive attitude and makes Trevecca feel like home,” said one anonymous response.
The personalized award with her name on it, along with money and other incentives, were presented to her by Brett Ladd, the CEO of Sodexo, as well as other members of the Sodexo team.
“My coworkers were cheering me on; it was a big day for me. It just makes me feel good that I’m appreciated,” said Leach. “I was blown away and I was emotional. I don’t think I could be any happier with where I’m at right now.”
Along with the responses from the survey, Leach has received praise from her supervisor and the retail manager of Sodexo here on campus, Geraldine Vahey, who originally hired Leach with the intent of her working in the Hub.
“She’s a very energetic and very friendly person, and once she moved upstairs, she just blossomed. She just took off with it and is friendly with everybody that comes in and knows the students and the faculty,” said Vahey. “She goes to the tables and takes their dishes. She wishes them a happy birthday and is always dancing and singing.”
One way that appreciation can continue to be shown to employees is by being aware of opportunities like the voting process and taking advantage of that space to share a response as well.
“Just keep voting for employees. It helps a lot and motivates us and makes us feel good. It makes small differences like this in our employee’s lives,” said Ramirez.
Leach, who recently got married last December, is retiring this May.
“I feel sad about it. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through the day. It’s going to be a hard transition. The kids who I’ve told have been really understanding, and that’s helped a lot,” said Leach.
Leach expressed her appreciation for the students, as she has tried to memorize many students’ names and be intentional with those she interacts with.
“The other day I was so tired, but by the time the kids started coming in and we started chatting, I was wide awake,” said Leach. “They’re good for me as maybe I am for them.”
Coming up on a year working for Sodexo, while also closing that same chapter, Leach is thankful for the experience that she has been given while working at Trevecca.
“It’s been an amazing ride,” said Leach. “It’s a very fulfilling job. I got the best job in the house.”
The students and faculty have made all of this possible by showing the same appreciation.
“She is an amazing and kind person who brightens my day whenever I come into the cafeteria,” said an anonymous response. “Thank you, Marian!”