As the lunch hour begins, the line grows longer and hungry students form a line like dominoes being stacked behind one another. A smiling face is seen behind the counter. The face, greeting students with a dose of humor and a side of fries is longtime Beehive employee, Tracie Campbell.
Campbell has been with the university’s food service, Aladdin Food Services, for almost five years. She became aware of the job opening through Waynesburg icon and security guard, Dale Campbell. She is married to his twin brother, Dean.
Campbell loves her job. It’s obvious to see, as she greets every student by name and immediately starts on his or her order She wants to be known as “The Nice Lunch Lady.”
Her perky, upbeat personality and her positivity radiate through the second floor of the Stover campus center.
Because of her genuine cheerfulness, you would never guess she’s been through times in which her outlook on life was put to the test.
On an ordinary day ten years ago, Campbell was getting ready for work. Her mother grazed over her neck to find a small golf-ball sized lump on the side of Campbell’s neck.
Both of them perplexed, Campbell scheduled a doctor’s appointment.
She didn’t think anything of it and got an appointment as a precaution. Then, the doctor said the word that no person ever wants to hear: cancer.
“It was a big shock,” she said. “I thought, what do I do now?”
Following the diagnosis, she developed a routine to cope with her daily life which now involved a new illness. Her kids still needed a mom and her husband still needed a wife, and there was little time to spend to herself.
Often times, after a grueling chemotherapy treatment, an overwhelming need to be alone would wash over Campbell.
“There were times when I’d be in the corner crying or go to the shower to escape,” said Campbell.
But she stayed positive with the help of her family, and eventually beat the cancer.
She learned early in life that an optimistic outlook and being grateful for each day was imperative.
Her brother, only 11 months younger than her, was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident in town when she was only 20 years old.
Campbell attributes that incident to the defining moment: she learned life was fragile and you need to appreciate what you are given.
“It’s the little blessings and when God wakes you up every day the least you can do is put a smile on your face,” said Campbell. “Life moves on whether you want it to or not. It’s a choice of how you go about your days. “
Her motherly tendencies are evident through the way she brings her personal mantra and thoughtfulness to her daily work duties.
“I want you to almost feel like you are my kid, because I try to treat everyone like they are my children,” she said. “I want you all to feel valued and wanted.”
She is forever thankful for the opportunity to have a job where she can have such an impact on students every day. Sometimes the roles are reversed and the students have an impact on her.
“Sometimes when I’m having a rough day and think I wish we weren’t busy, you guys [the students] all come in and I get to see your nice faces. I feel better after that,” she said.
The workplace serves as an escape for Campbell, a mother of three and wife of a retired man of the armed forces.
“I like being here because I can be Tracie. At home, I’m Mom and Dean’s wife. Here [the workplace] is my breathing room,” said Campbell. “While it is hectic and chaotic, I love it. “