UNSUNG HERO UPDATE: Ms. Frankie Capers and her grandson Rhondell have safely landed in Orlando, Florida for their week long vacation! They will staying at the Vacation Village at Parkway Resort – which is only a 10-15 minute ride away from Disney. They have a super exciting week ahead of them – with visits to Magic Kingdom, SeaWorld, Universal Orlando Resort, among other sites!!
Ms. Gina truly cares about students–she even bought scantrons to keep at the Genomic Café and give to students who forget their own (although she was way too modest to take credit)! When asked what small things make her day better:
“Most of it is here at the store—seeing the students. There’s some I’ve seen for 4 years, from their first year coming in. All kinds of students here. You don’t know what anyone has been through, so–I have to come take care of y’all. See everyone—make sure everyone is okay. I just come here to work and help all of y’all. I just want to make sure everyone is okay.”
“I try to make sure I’m open by 7 so you can get your caffeine, food, whatever—it takes the least little bit of stress off of you. One time I came in and found a girl sick at this table. She’d been here all night, nothing but caffeine, and it made her sick that she’d had so much caffeine. I had to feed her. I didn’t even open the store—just told her to squeeze in the door with me.”
One of Ms. Gina’s favorite UNC memories are from her time at the Ambulatory Care Center at UNC Hospitals, where she worked before the Genomic Cafe:
“This little girl had surgery—had a brain tumor and they removed it. And it was just her and her mom. And we adopted her for Christmas over there, everybody donated, and we filled her whole Christmas wish list. I had Santa Claus come give her her presents when she came to her doctor’s appointment—that’s when we did it.”
Being on UNC’s campus for so many years, Ms. Gina has seen Tar Heels at all stages of life:
“I had people come and tell me, ‘my wife just had a baby last night’—I’ve watched her go through 9 months. And then you come over here [to campus], and it’s the whole next stage of life. So I’ve seen them from the beginning, or at their worst, now here—at your best.”
Ms. Gina had some uplifting words of encouragement for students:
“Most of you just underestimate yourselves. During exam time, when you start stressing, you always end up doing fine on them. You just underestimate—you guys are in stress mode. First or second years always stress more—my sister was the same way. High school came easy to her. Once she went to college, she didn’t know how to study…you’ve just got to learn how you need to study…But you always will do fine.”
Next time you’re around the Genome Sciences Building, make sure to stop in at the Genomic Cafe, say hi to Ms. Gina, and thank her for everything that she does for students and for UNC!
“My childhood was very regimented, very strict because my father was a military man, and he came from a long line of military men. He is such a hard-working man. His first job after the military was at the post office, and he said it was too easy. I developed my strong work ethic from him, but my mom also made sure we were always working, doing something. She wasn’t the stay at home type she was ambitious.”
“Getting this job here at WashU was the job I had to persevere for the most. I had to stay in touch with the woman who I interviewed. I called her every day and she said to me one day, ‘I’m going to have to give you a part here, so you won’t call me every day.’ I knew this was annoying but I also knew that constantly reminding her of my presence would help.”
“My mom and dad taught me a lot, but the biggest thing I got from them was perseverance. No matter what the ideas are, no matter what the road ahead looks like, keep going. Don’t stop. Doors won’t open for you; you have to open them.”
Joe, thank you for lifting our spirits with your warm smile and infectious laugh!
“I love it, I love to clean, it’s something I like to. I don’t like going home smelling like food, but I made employee of the month in 2014! My picture is still up there in North Campus Diner. I left my mark…I love these kids, I do. One time, Valentine’s Day came, and they gave me a card, it was so sweet. Most of the students wrote down how they felt about me and everything and it was very appreciative. And they gave me some chocolate. I really appreciated that. One of the professors, she gave me a gift card too. It felt good, because sometimes when we work, we don’t feel appreciated about how our work is done and how we did. But once the kids did that for me, I felt so good…One time, I would speak and the kid wouldn’t speak back, but as I continued to speak to him, and as I continued, he finally answers me now. I’ll be like “Good morning!” and he’ll be like “Good morning, Ray!” So now I get it every day”
“My daughters are 9 and 6 years old. They’ll be 10 and 7 this year. One of them wants to go to Penn State. As they get older, things change, but I’m with whatever they want to do. I love my girls. I work for them, I do everything for them. Like now, I go to school online here. I do everything for my girls. I am nothing without them…My greatest accomplishment [is] being the best mom. I don’t have a car, but my kids get to go wherever. Me, living alone, taking care of two kids…and I do it on the regular and I get things done? I’m excited, I really am. I’m proud of myself.”
“My greatest struggle, was starting over from the beginning with two kids, with no help. so that was like the biggest ever. Because I got to a point in my life like “How am I gonna do this?” I kept questioning myself “Why am I not doing it? Just stop talking about it, just get up and do it.” I kept talking and talking and talking to myself like “You can do it, you can do it, you can do it!” and then I just got up one day and I did it and I never went back down. I kept myself up, and now look at me! I’m in school, that’s an extra higher level. No more down, no more…My dream is always to give me and my kids a peaceful place, as in a house for me and my kids. I always dreamt of that. I always travel you know. The biggest place I ever took them was the Disney cruise, we went to the Bahamas. It’s providing for them, that is the only thing on my mind. It’s my kids. I love them I really do. I love my girls, this is all for them…No matter what age, no matter if you’re a single mom. You can always accomplish your goals, no matter what. Nothing should stop you, keep moving forward, count your blessings and keep the faith.”
“I have become an independent person. I have become that. You know…once you have kids, you’re not a kid no more. Your time is up. It’s all about you trying to take care of this child, and that was my problem, like, how was I gonna do this on my own? I have my days where I’m tired. We get up at 4:30 every morning and I gotta get them ready before 5:30 and then hurry up to the train station. But I tend to make it, never late…I made it, I can say that. By the strength of God, I made it. And I’m proud of myself. Especially to be my age, with two kids…so, I thank God every day and I hope he continues to bless us because my next step is trying to find a better spot for my kids.”
We would like to thank our sixth Unsung Hero, Rayshawna Allen for sharing her story, advice, and encouragement for the Terps! The Unsung Heroes of UMD are always working hard for the community, and a quick word of appreciation is all it takes to make their day.
Larry Calloway, a Bus Driver at Georgetown University, has been singing for more than 50 years. After hearing Larry sing on the bus, students came together to help him achieve a lifelong dream that he thought would be impossible to achieve.
Watch as Larry sings one of his favorite songs in front of hundreds of people at Georgetown’s spring concert! SHARE this video to help his voice reach thousands!!