Barb Bedolla has six children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren. But her title of grandma extends far beyond her biological family to work, where she has the nickname of South Quad’s grandma.
Bedolla has worked for the University on and off for almost 12 years, greeting students as she swipes MCards and welcomes them to enjoy their meals at the South Quad cafeteria.
“She brings joy to everyone who walks in here,” said Jerry Walker, one of her co-workers.
A Facebook.com group honoring Bedolla, “South Quad Grandma. Swiping Our Cards, Stealing Our Hearts,” has more than 200 members.
As students entered the cafeteria and smiled to see that she was working yesterday afternoon, Bedolla explained that she began her career at the University on the night shift at the University Hospital 12 years ago.
She then moved to South Quad to work in the food service department. After transferring to Oxford for a short term job in facilities, Bedolla returned to South Quad where she began her work as a greeter.
“I look forward to coming to work everyday,” Bedolla said. “There’s always someone I can talk to.”
Bedolla doesn’t let anyone escape a sincere greeting as they pass.
“Everyone is ‘Honey’ to me,” she said.
A smile spread across Bedolla’s face as two girls approached her desk and handed her their MCards.
“I have a lot of special ones,” said Bedolla, referring to the girls as they passed through the line. She reached into her purse and pulled out a handmade thank you card.
Bedolla explained that she once consoled a girl who entered the cafeteria in tears. In return, the student sent a card that she now carries in her purse everyday.
Bedolla said she still receives birthday and Christmas cards from students who have graduated.
Two students even called her from the Rose Bowl to wish her a happy New Year, she said.
Bedolla said she dreads the thought of graduation and saying goodbye to students.
She plans to attend commencement this year to cheer on her favorite students.
“I’ve seen them come in as freshman, and if I can smile at them or give them a hug to make their transition better, I do,” Bedolla said.
“She made our year a whole lot easier,” said Kinesiology freshman Krista Phillips.
Barb Bedolla’s warm greetings have left lasting impressions on her “special ones.”
“We definitely miss her on the days she’s not sitting there,” Phillips said.
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