Cecilia Carrasco is nothing short of a campus celebrity at Santa Clara University.
Students greet the longtime Bon Appétit cashier by name as she rings up their items in The Cellar Market, confiding how their midterms went, updating her on their plans for the day, or just returning Cecilia’s warm smile and greeting — which are reliably and remarkably genuine.
Cecilia’s journey as a Bon Appétit employee started out by “doing a little of everything,” from prepping hamburgers to serving up weekend breakfast. Six months into her training, Cecilia’s manager asked her to work at the Cellar Market. “I was so scared,” Cecilia says. “I’d never worked in a grocery store before.” With the support of her manager, she learned the ins and outs of the job — and has worked in the position for the last 17 years since.
Ask her about her favorite part of her work, and Cecilia will break into a wide smile and reply, “Everything!” Full of appreciation for her community, Cecilia says, “I really love talking with the students. I’ve been working here so long, and I’ve never had a bad experience.” She further explains that her workplace has become her classroom — somewhere she is always learning. “Every day, I practice my English. The students help me, it’s like school to me everyday.”
Cecilia’s positive attitude is infectious and frequently moves students to go out of their way to show their appreciation for her kindness. In the past, students have banded together to sing Cecilia a happy birthday, bake her treats, and write her lengthy letters of gratitude. They’ve written articles about her for the school paper and even started a Facebook page dedicated to The Unbelievably Happy Lady in the Cellar. And they’ve serenaded her on Facebook! (Video below.)
In a recent handwritten note Cecilia received, a student confides that “even though I may only speak with you a few minutes a week, you brighten my day with your constant positivity and kindness to all people you meet.”
Cecilia’s one piece of advice to a successful career at Bon Appétit is the same piece of advice she gives to her grandchildren. “You have to start your day very positive,” Cecilia says. “And you have to always show people respect.”