Aquina Beck always has a smile on her face. Whether she is preparing food in the back, stocking up the sandwich bar or cleaning tables and floors, the West Dining Center supervisor loves what she does.
However, the WDC will have a different feel with the departure of this beloved employee.
“She has been an inspiration to me. She has taught me from the first day I got here,” said Leta Holsinger, WDC cashier. “She has that infectious personality that everybody who is around her is always in a good mood.”
In a 14-year career that brought her a Gunkelman Award, a National Residence Hall Honorary membership and countless days of happy interaction with the students and staff at NDSU, Beck retired on Monday to spend more time with grandchildren, her father and loving husband.
Beck began her time at NDSU in 2000 when she was hired as a supervisor for the p.m. shift at the WDC. Beck already had experience in the food business coming from a family that took pride in great food, 15 years providing meals for her own home daycare and a year and a half spent at the University of North Dakota’s dining centers.
“When my husband was transferred from Grand Forks here to Fargo, there was no doubt about it that NDSU was right for me and that I wanted to stay in the university system,” Beck said. “I like getting to know the students, and there is a wide variety here, which make it a very good place to work.”
One of Beck’s main duties during the p.m. shift was to ensure student employees, as well as the full-time staff, were present and assigned to different tasks. Beck also worked with fellow staff members to make sure everything was in place for every meal. This included serving entrees and making sure the salad bar, sandwich bar and desserts were constantly filled.
Even with all of the different tasks and responsibilities Beck oversees, she said she perceives her job as simple.
“I enjoy putting out a nice meal, making it presentable and knowing it’s good quality food that students can enjoy,” Beck said.
Students are a main focus for Beck, and she has cherished the opportunity to see students every day. Beck also said she enjoys to have some of those students recognize her and give a friendly greeting.
“I like to think I’m a people person, so I try to get out and know students by name if that’s possible,” Beck said. “I like to just stop and ask these students how things are going, because I strongly believe that deep down, it means something to all of us to feel that somebody cares.”
Beck said one of the perks of her job is the relationship between the athletic department and the dining centers; she and the dining staff have created close-knit relationships with many of the football and basketball players.
“Just getting to know people and getting the pat on the back that we’ve done a good job are my two favorite things about this job,” Beck said.
In 2004, Beck received a pat on the back when she was the recipient of the Gunkelman Award, which is an annual award that honors a student, faculty or staff member who has made the most significant and unselfish contribution to a happy environment at NDSU.
In an NDSU news release from 2004, former WDC employee Matt Hoesel wrote, “She is a very friendly and outgoing person. She is always nice to the students and takes time to ask how they are doing. She is a great supervisor, and I enjoy working with her. She makes coming to work fun.”
Former NDSU professor of soil science, John Enz, wrote, “Beck greets everyone with a big smile, a friendly hello or ‘how are you?’ Ms. Beck obviously enjoys her job immensely and shares the joy with everyone. Her enthusiasm and friendliness are infectious.”
In 2007, Beck received another accolade: membership in the National Residence Hall Honorary, the premiere honorary dedicated to recognizing leaders in residence halls.
Beck believes it will be tough to say goodbye to some of the dining center staff she has worked with for the past 12 to 14 years, but she has plenty in store for the near future.
“My husband and I will be spending a lot more time with our six grandchildren, four of whom are actively involved in school functions,” Beck said. “I also have a father out in Montana that I need to be with a little more as he grows older.”
Relaxation, an open mind and some crossed off bucket list items are in store for Beck.
“My husband has always wanted to work in Medora, N.D., so who knows?”