No, they are not the result of some alien mutation. Brass Ovaries refers to women (occasionally a man) who some how distinguish themselves from the pack. Stories that may be plucked from the front, middle and back sections of various newspapers. These note worthy individuals exemplify the characteristics of women who live life to the fullest. They meet challenges head on. Flourish from what would appear to be hostile, stagnant or stale environments.
Arlene Collins greets every student with one of her unique salutations
By Jake Craney, Reporter
Photo by Matt Anzur
Arlene Collins welcomes Tim Hall, Business sophomore, to Brandeis Dining Hall. When asked about her trademark enthusiasm, Collins replied, "I do it for the kids."
"Good morning, sweetie pie!"
"How you doing, baby cakes?"
These are just a few of the familiar greetings flowing from the delighted face of Arlene Collins, the weekday lunch-shift cashier at Brandeis Dining Hall. With an infectious and youthful enthusiasm, 65-year-old Collins swipes the ID cards that allow Creighton students to eat at Brandeis.
No matter what endearing term she chooses from her arsenal, whether it is "baby cakes," "honey bunch," "sugar pie" or any of the countless others she comes up with, you can be sure she will be smiling when she says it.
Collins is in her 15th year at Creighton. With her uniform neatly tucked in and her visor perched atop her petite figure, she is a welcome sight for students entering the dining hall.
"Iím boring, thatís all you need to know," Collins said with a slight grin.
Born in Omaha, Collins has had a variety of jobs, including cashiering and hairstyling. She lived in California for 18 years and visits the West Coast during the summer. Fifteen years ago, she decided to return to her home state and contacted Creighton for possible employment opportunities. She started in Becker Dining Hall working the food lines and then moved to Brandeis. Most of her spare time during the school year is spent with her sister, son and daughter.
She said there have not been that many significant changes in her duties since she has been here, but she remains enthusiastic about her work.
"I do it for the kids," Collins said. "Whatever they get out of it, I do too. It helps me just as much as it helps the kids."
Collins said her favorite part of the job is the interaction with the students and the time she spends with them every day.
"Arlene keeps everybody upbeat," said Tony Hayes, Brandeis Dining Hall manager.
Hayes took over as dining hall manager four years ago and has since worked with Collins almost every day. "The best thing about her is her overall attitude; she really enjoys her job," Hayes said. "I respect her a lot."
Arts & Sciences sophomore Erik Thomas eats at Brandeis nearly every day. He said interacting with Collins brightens his day.
"There have been days when Iím really busy or have tests, and Iím in a bad mood, but when I go to Brandeis, Arlene is there and talks to me a little bit," Thomas said. "It gives me a break from the stress of the day and puts a smile on my face every time."
If Collins did not work at Brandeis, he said he would be more likely to eat somewhere else.
"She provides an atmosphere that I want to go back to the next day. Iím sure other students feel the same," Thomas said.
Collins said she plans to stay at Creighton. Until the next time you hand your card to the small woman with the big heart: "Have a good day, sunshine!"
© 2008 Sally Lentz All Rights Reserved.
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