Longtime employee delights students with cheery personality
For 13 years, Edna Macerta has brought her cheery disposition and warm smile to Gannon University’s cafeteria. Greeting us with her kind spirit as she asks us how we are doing when she swipes our cards.
How can someone be so consistently pleasant?
“God,” she said with her customary smile. “I don’t know what the kids see in me, but whatever it is, it’s from him.”
Born and raised in Erie, she still lives here because she said she doesn’t want to live anywhere else. Macerta started this job after she retired and was looking for something to do, and her now-manager, Pete Mannarelli, called her and offered her a job.
“Pete is such a great manager; he really listens to the students and gives them what they want,” she said.
But she doesn’t just love her job because of her manager.
“I like it because it’s not stressful, I get to intermingle with the students and see their happy faces,” she explained with utter certainty.
Faith is very important to her as well, which is one of the reasons she is drawn to Gannon itself.
“Kids will talk to me about their spirituality,” she said. “Over the summer, I had surgery and I had so many prayers for me. I think God has a covering over Gannon to protect it.”
Faith is also a strong tie, in addition to work, that Macerta shares with her friend and co-worker, Ginny Dombrowski.
Dombrowski, who has been at Gannon for more than 20 years, is another one of Gannon’s friendliest and most welcoming faces. She said that she and Macerta often attend church together and otherwise “hang out.”
“She’s more of a homebody than me; I go out and about,” she chuckled. “I’ll go sit on her porch with her, or in her backyard.”
Senior sport and exercise science major Chris Devos said that even though he is working through his final semesters at Gannon, he still appreciates the warmth of this dynamic duo that he first met as a freshman.
“I haven’t been to the café in a while, but they were both always a warm and welcoming face,” he said. “They always made sure to read your name, to try and get to know each person.”
Sophomore chemistry/pre-med major Dan Szabat agreed that Macerta and Dombrowski are two of the café’s most laudable features.
“Oh, those two,” he said. “They are the best part about that café. They can brighten your day no matter how bad the food is.”
Dombrowski made it clear that she and Macerta are close enough to crack good-humored jokes about one another.
“I’ll just say, she’s not what she seems to be,” she said with a laugh. “I’m just kidding. She’s great with the kids, she really is. She’s a great person.”
Macerta mentioned to me that she won an award; of course I had to see it. She took me over to a spot in the cafeteria where there are red plaques hanging on the wall right next to where everyone puts their trays when they are done.
She points up to her plaque hanging with the same satisfaction that she talks about it with.
“Keith Taylor [who was then the Provost] gave me my first award, the B.I.G. (Believe In Gannon) in 2009. He is such a nice man; so are all the faculty,” she said. “When they come in, they make me feel very connected to them.”
Our interview was briefly interrupted when Macerta smiled and waved to students getting their cards swiped.
“Excuse me a minute,” she whispered.
She headed over to her usual seat and like an old friend, gave the student a high-five. Seeing there was an issue, Macerta took charge.
“Now what’s the problem?” she asked.
I sat back in my chair and watched her in action. With ease she hit a few buttons and figured out the issue – the student had used up all of his guest passes.
The other student handed her his credit card and she efficiently set him up with a meal swipe. I smiled to myself as she commanded her position effortlessly.
She trotted back to our meeting place and reiterated her love for the students.
”I have not had a freshmen class come in that wasn’t respectful, everyone is such good kids,” she said. “They keep me young. I always look at what they are wearing, then when I visit my granddaughter and take her shopping and I say ‘That’s what kids at school are wearing.’”
Obviously I had to ask her if she had a favorite thing to eat at her place of business.
“Pete [Mannarelli] lets us eat whatever we want,” she said. “I like the salad bar, deli bar and pizza bar.”
I told her I could sense a theme and she laughed.
“I like anything I can make myself.”
Our interview was done, but only because I had to go to class. I could have talked to her talked to her a lot longer. She has the kind of warmth and openness that renders people comfortable enough to open up to her, like she told me they do. We exchange goodbyes and I left with a smile on my face.
Next time I talk to her, I will make sure I have more time.
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