Anyone who’s gone off as a college freshman and moved into the dorms is familiar with the feeling, a sense of unease that comes from living in a new environment filled with strangers.
For nearly two decades, a longtime housekeeper at Washington University in St. Louis has helped make that transition easier and engender a sense of home by writing a personal letter to the students who live in the Thomas H. Eliot residential hall.
In her letter, Draga tells them a little bit about herself and her family and provides encouragement, making the freshmen feel welcome and helping to take the edge off the nervousness inherent in such a big life change.
The purpose of this letter is to let you know a little about me, your housekeeper.
My name is Draga. I’m originally from Croatia (parts of former Yugoslavia). I have been living in the U.S. for 20 years now. I’m married and have two children, a 28 year old daughter and 22 year old son.
My daughter, Tina, received her Bachelor’s degree in May 2012 from WUSTL. She majored in Romance languages + Literatures (French, Spanish, Italian). She spent the year teaching English in Madrid, Spain, then she did the MBA program at Olin, and is now working full time in St. Louis at Nestle Purina Petcare as a Global associate portfolio manager.
My son, Goran, is an undergraduate at Webster University here in St. Louis. He enjoys movies, comic books, books, and painting. This will be my 19th year working here. I put a lot of effort into making this place a comfortable home for learning and living!
I know this is your first year at WUSTL—everything is new and difficult but what I learned in my life is that nothing is impossible and nothing is promised.
My family came here 20 years ago with only $100 in our pocket, but here we are happy and blessed. Don’t hesitate to come up and talk to me, I’m here to help you feel more at home and I’ll do my best to help.
I wish you a successful and clean year! Your housekeeper, Draga 🙂
In an interview last year, Walt Bettinger, the CEO of international banking and brokerage firm Charles Schwab, highlighted the importance of never losing sight “of people who do the real work.” He recalled a class during his senior year, there was only one question on the final exam: “What’s the name of the lady who cleans this building?”
“It was the only test I ever failed,” he said. “Her name was Dottie, and I didn’t know Dottie. I’d seen her, but I’d never taken the time to ask her name. I’ve tried to know every Dottie I’ve worked with ever since.”
I bet no one who’s lived in Draga’s dorm has ever forgotten her name!
Share to warm hearts!