Each year, the Lafayette College community in Easton, Pennsylvania gathers for the Aaron O. Hoff Awards, which recognize the contributions and outstanding leadership of students, faculty, and staff. The awards, which are named after Lafayette’s first African American student, honor his spirit of leadership and groundbreaking role in the college’s history.
On a spring day, Lafayette students, faculty, and staff filed into the college’s historic Colton Chapel for the awards ceremony. A committee of students and faculty members had selected winners from the many nominations that poured in from across campus. Among the 25 awards handed out across four different categories was Staff Member of the Year, which this year went to two Bon Appétiters, Cartier and Cayenne Bengochea.
The Bengochea siblings are relatively new to Lafayette, with Cayenne having joined the Bon Appétit team in August of 2021 and Cartier in February of 2022. Despite their short tenures on campus, they have both already had a huge impact on the community. The siblings work together at Lafayette’s busy Upper Farinon Dining Hall, which serves as one of two all-you-care-to-eat options for students on campus. The Bengocheas staff the deli, where they interact with hundreds of students a day who stop by to grab a meal. These opportunities for interaction have facilitated close connections, with one student remarking during the awards ceremony that Cartier and Cayenne’s “positivity and warmth are contagious.”
But the Bengocheas’ impact goes far beyond friendly chitchat. As they have gotten to know students at Upper, they have worked hard to ensure that each student’s dietary preferences and needs are met. These efforts were exemplified during Ramadan, where Cartier and Cayenne went above and beyond to meet students’ needs. “Before Ramadan even started, they were accommodating my religious dietary needs at the sandwich station,” one student noted. “Then their efforts magnified during Ramadan as they helped to make sure my friends and I had what we needed for breakfast and to have our morning meal before we start fasting.” At Lafayette, this work did not go unnoticed, leading to the recognition of the siblings’ efforts before rows and rows of filled pews inside of Colton Chapel.
After receiving the award, Cayenne noted, “it is truly a huge honor, something I won’t forget for a long time.”