Sunny side up
Ask any student who has ever eaten in Sadler dining hall about Irene Krebzdak, and chances are a smile will appear.
It is a smile that resembles the one Irene always wears as she swipes students’ cards when they enter the dining hall. That smile, along with welcoming bright eyes behind her glasses, is always there to welcome students, along with a basket of starlight mints.
‘It’s kind of like coming home to your own kitchen and having your mom welcome you into the dining room,’ said Angela Pruszenski, a sophomore international relations major.
Pruszenski lived in Sadler last year, but now resides across campus at Shaw. She said she loves coming back to Sadler to eat just because of Irene.
‘She’ll always remember your name, always,’ Pruszenski said. ‘No matter how many hundreds of kids come down here, she’ll remember your name if she sees you out on the street.’
Irene’s ability to remember students’ names makes the welcome she gives each student entering the dining hall all the more genuine.
‘There’s kids that are living on South Campus, and they haven’t been here to eat for years, but when I see them, I remember their name,’ Irene said. ‘I never forget faces, and I connect the faces with the name.’
Irene is also famous for her short, but meaningful and pleasant conversations with students as they enter the dining hall. She always makes a point to ask how each student is doing that day, and almost always tells them, ‘I’m doin’ awesome!’
Irene, who, with a chuckle claimed to only be 29 years old, has worked for the university for 33 years and at Sadler for the past 15 years. She said her favorite part of the job is talking with the students who come through every day.
‘I used to work in the mail room,’ she said. ‘I just wanted to do something different. I wanted to meet new kids and I wanted to interact with them.’
Nancy Pelligrini, a co-worker of Irene’s for the past six years, said she envies Irene’s enthusiasm in her job.
‘Everybody loves Irene,’ Pelligrini said. ‘I really don’t know how she remembers everybody’s name. I can remember some faces, but names? Forget it. She’s the only one I know that does that.’
Irene works at Sadler every weekday, from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. She said she never tires, though, because she adores her job.
‘I’ve never seen myself doing anything else,’ she said. ‘I absolutely love this job. I love interacting with the kids as they walk in. I enjoy talking with them. I enjoy meeting their parents.’
The only parts of the job Irene said she does not like are stocking up on supplies and interacting with her supervisors.
The basket of starlight peppermints Irene keeps at the entrance of the dining hall is an example of her kindness and dedication to her job. Students are welcome to take as many mints as they like upon entering or leaving the dining hall, and Irene provides all the mints herself.
‘Irene is super-friendly, in a word,’ Pruszenski said. ‘She provides exemplary service in what she does.’
On the weekends, and during her other time away from Sadler, Irene enjoys doing work around her house, especially in her garden.
‘I love flowers, and I love taking care of them and watching them grow,’ she said. Asked what her favorite flower was, Irene had a hard time choosing, rattling off a list including mums, tulips, roses and daffodils.
Her real passion is interacting with students, though.
‘I’m so glad I have this job,’ Irene says from under her blue Syracuse hat. ‘I don’t
know what I’d do with my life if I couldn’t talk to these kids every day. It’s a dream come
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