Katsumi is one of the kindest people that works at Wheaton, and perhaps one of the kindest people that I have ever met. She has been working as a cashier for Aramark for an astonishing 21 years, which is as long as I have been alive.
When I asked her what her favorite part of the job is, she immediately replied that it is the students. She noted that at her age she should be retired, but she does not want to retire. The staff and students “keep her young”, she added. She is so fond of the students that she went on to say that “they’re like my grandchildren” and that the Wheaton Community has become like a family to her.
When I asked what keeps her motivated, she explained that she is motivated every day because she is “proud to work here”. She loves her job because of the supportive and outgoing students, so this is a reminder to keep motivating her with our smiles and kindness, so that she stays proud doing the job that she loves.
I wanted to find out more about Katsumi than what she likes about her job at Wheaton. I wanted to know what she likes to do when she’s not behind the register at Balfour-Hood Café. She said that she loves to travel, bake, and decorate cakes. In fact, she used to be a baker, but now that craft has become a hobby, as she bakes for her friends and family.
Of course, I had to then ask if she had a favorite travel place. She answered that she had been to Italy and fell in love with Venice. Unfortunately, she had another trip that was canceled because of Covid. She also says she is hopeful that she will fly home to Japan soon to visit family.
Next, I asked her a bit of a curveball: if she could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why? She thought long and hard about this question, but ultimately decided that she would have dinner with Clint Eastwood: her favorite actor of all time.
I changed the direction of the interview back to a Wheaton-related question, after reflecting on the fact that 21 years of working here means that one must have observed a significant amount of changes. I asked Katsumi what the biggest change she had seen at Wheaton was. Naturally, she mentioned the architecture and how new buildings had been constructed and how certain architectural changes had been made. Yet, the biggest change that she had observed was the way that students interacted with her. She noted that when she first came here, her English was not as good as it is now, and as a result, students were not as outgoing and sociable with her as they are today. She really loves how outgoing the students have become now and enjoys everyone that stops to say “hi’ and smile at her in the mornings.
Eventually, we talked about another element of Wheaton’s campus that she loved: the movies that were filmed here. I asked if she had seen Don’t Look Up and what she thought of it, and she replied that “It was a little bit hard to understand the story.” But we agreed that it was cool to see Wheaton in the background.
Thank you Katsumi for all you do to make Wheaton a livelier, more friendly place.