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ECU Campus Dining employee spreads good cheer across campus

(WITN)
Published: Sep. 21, 2017 at 7:43 AM EDT
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A woman who works for ECU Campus Dining has been positively influencing students for more than 17 years.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.” ECU Campus Dining Employee Bernice Stepherson, affectionately known as Ms. B, embodies that adage perfectly. She greets the thousands of students she sees daily from a seemingly unending well of love, even though she faces her own battles.

Ms. B at the West End Dining Hall always has an encouraging word and a smile.

“When every last one of these kids comes through this line, they get their own personal love from Ms. B., because of Christ.”

Ms. B is strong in her faith, and it plays well with the students who love her. Like Austin Rabah. “People need coffee in the morning. I go straight to Ms. B,” he says.

“She just makes everyone feel like they’re special,” says freshman Asia Gorman. “She just cares about them and hopes that they’re doing well all the time.”

She is both an on-the-spot mom and minister. She often prays with students going through a tough time.

When a few students told Ms. B a few years ago that they were planning to drop out of school, she stepped in with prayer. “They came in a week or two later, and said, ‘Ms. B., if it wasn’t for you, we would have quit. Everything worked itself out. We are here.”

And here Ms. B remains, nearly 18 years after her first day, meaning some of this year’s freshmen, were born the year she started. All the while, she is committed to sharing positivity.

“In my bad days, they’ll never know,” Ms. B says. “These kids will never know when I’m having aches and pains and everything. I have three lumbar herniated discs in my back.”

Pain comes in more than just the physical form, however. Ms. B’s son-in-law, Juantrea Bradley of Greenville, was killed in Iraq in 2008, leaving behind Ms. B’s daughter, Ava, and their four children.

“When he passed, she said, ‘Mom, I don’t think i can make it.’ I put my hands up under her, I said ‘By the grace of God, we’re gonna make it.’”

Ms. B’s 26-year-old son Travis, who she says was born severely Autistic, has also made it. He is now pursuing his second degree from Pitt Community College.

“I encourage anybody, everybody, no matter what you’re going through, it’s not as bad as you think it is. Think about someone else before you are always thinking about yourself,” Ms. B says.

Ms. B has made such an impact that some people return years later, just to say hello. Brittany Jefferson, ECU Class of 2012, showed up randomly the day WITN was interviewing Ms. B. She says she lives in Whiteville and had gone to Apex for an appointment. Even though it was well over a hundred miles away from Greenville, Jefferson and her mom made a spur-of-the-moment decision to drive over and surprise Ms. B.

“She touches so many people here,” Jefferson says. “I just love her to death.”

And that’s what Ms. B. has done for countless students over the years.

She’s won multiple customer service awards, including the prestigious Ring of Stars from Aramark. About 200 people of Aramark’s 270,000 employees worldwide win the award.