Corey’s Corner: an unlikely mentor

Dr. Barry Corey discusses the significance of the role of the janitors within the Biola community.


| Photo courtesy of University Communications and Marketing

President Barry Corey, Writer

Courtesy | University Communications and Marketing

I still remember Grace Vaughn from when I was an undergraduate like you. Ms. Grace was older in age, gentle in spirit and strong in work ethic. She held one of the important jobs on our campus, daily tidying the floor we boys daily rendered untidy. She was part of the custodial staff whose job description was to clean our residence hall. Week after week throughout the semester, Ms. Grace vacuumed the carpet, picked up the litter, put the furniture back in place and Windexed the glass. This was more than her job. It was her service to us. She’d often say, “You’re my boys.”

Years after I graduated from college I bumped into Ms. Grace — as we called her — and she remembered my name. Then far too feeble to work, she lit with a big smile as she said, “Oh, one of my boys!” I was humbled and honored to be remembered by Ms. Grace, our hall’s housekeeper.

The same spirit that got Ms. Grace out of bed each morning is the spirit that resides in our cleaning professionals at Biola. These women and men work at Biola not simply for a paycheck. They serve here as a holy calling.

Last year my wife Paula arranged for our Board of Trustee spouses to meet some the fine employees who daily clean your residence halls. These trustee spouses sat enthralled by the stories told by our custodians of how much love they have for you, our students. Paula came home and told me of what she heard that day by those who clean your floors, women and men who serve you as their ministry, who pray for you and with you and who come to know you by name.

If you wonder which Biola employees I am talking about, they’re the ones with the blue shirts.

One of my favorite gifts I’ve received since coming to Biola was my own blue shirt, given me by our hard working and wonderful custodial team. You probably see these shirts everyday: short sleeve blue with a Biola insignia over the right pocket and an embroidered name over the left. Mine has the cursive “Barry” lettered on the front. That shirt is proud possession of mine. It hangs in the coat closet in the President’s Office reminding me that those who care about the cleanliness of our buildings do so because they care about the well-being of this community. Every once in a while I put that shirt on and join in a project with our custodians because hanging out with them gives me so much joy in my job.

Our campus is noted for many things good, and one of them is our cleanliness. As you begin this Spring 2013 semester, find one of those good people in our community who wears a blue shirt and tell them, “thank you.”

The Biola community will have the opportunity to thank and honor facilities worker Nancy Hernandez with a Biola Ruby Award in March during Women’s National History Month for her commitment to our students.

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