After a long night in the library or an adventurous night out, Robin Alfonso will meet you with a smile while taking your order of fried green beans, a honey bun and a chocolate frost, for example. Alfonso works as a snack bar attendant at Whitman’s dining hall, helping students achieve their gorals by providing them with sustenance.
Alfonso grew up in Clarksburg, Mass., just east of Williamstown, on about 20 acres of land. She worked at Price Chopper, Big Y and Berkshire Medical Hospital before getting a job at the College. Her friend suggested she apply to work at the College 15 years ago. Alfonso remembers the application process simply as, “Bing bang boom, I was in. They said that I got myself in.” She currently lives in North Adams with her two sons.
Alfonso admits that working night shifts at snack bar “gets to you after a while.” “It’s hard to sleep when it’s light out,” she said. Her typical day involves waking up around 3 p.m. and then arriving at work at 5 p.m. She finishes her shift around 2 a.m. but doesn’t fall asleep until 6. Instead, after work, Alfonso prefers to do her chores such as shopping or laundry. “Nobody else is up,” she said. “It’s awesome. I love that time.” On her days off, she likes to watch football games, spend time with her family and catch up on sleep.
Sometimes Alfonso feels like she spends all her time at the College — as she put it, “I practically live here.” However, that’s not a bad thing, as Alfonso said she enjoys the time she spends at work. “I love my job,” she said. “Every year it just gets better and better.” She appreciates being able to interact with students on a daily basis. “You guys [students] make it awesome,” she said. Additionally, “they treat us good here,” Alfonso said of the administration. “They’re always doing something good for us.”
One of her favorite parts of the job is helping first-years become oriented to the College. “It’s fun — it gives us something new to do,” Alfonso said. “[We] tell them where everything is and how we do it.” She also loves doing the Late Night Snacks in the library during reading period because she is able to motivate students who are studying.
Over the past 15 years, Alfonso has noticed that snack bar has become healthier, eliminating many unhealthy chips and drinks. “We all miss the old snack bar,” she said, but luckily Whitman’s still has her favorite foods: shepherd’s pie and mac and cheese. The prep work is also not as hard as it used to be, and snack bar has become more enviromentally-friendly as well.
Not many students would know that Alfonso is also a grandmother. She enjoys spending her time off with her 10-year-old grandson. “He’s just in my heart,” Alfonso said.
When asked what she would change about dining at the College, Alfonso had difficulty coming up with an answer. “There is not really anything that I don’t like,” she said. After some thought, she said, “The things I would change are things that bother the students.” She always has the best interests of the student body in mind.
Alfonso brings positivity to the school and to her coworkers. After missing a few days due to injury, Alfonso came back to the job with a smile on her face, ready to work. She always reminds students at snack bar if they still have money left to purchase a honey bun. “The word of the night is happiness,” Alfonso said, “because I’m hurting and I want to smile.”