Lincoln, Neb. —Tammy De Leon, a custodian in Nebraska’s East Campus Massengale Residential Center, arrived at work on March 18 to a special surprise.
The residence hall’s fourth-floor students, a majority of which have now moved out, pooled their money together to send De Leon flowers. The gift was a way to express their gratitude for her hard work and say goodbye.
“It was awesome. I mean, I was shocked,” De Leon said. “I didn't expect anything like that.”
De Leon has worked in Massengale since last September and said she’s developed a strong connection with her students.
“I’m mainly on the fourth floor all day,” De Leon said. “I talk to my students, ask them how they’re doing, and tell them to wear a coat when it’s cold outside or tell them it’s raining.
“I always ask them where they’re going over the weekend and holidays and stuff like that. They’re a wonderful bunch of kids.”
Her actions made a lasting impression on Kelsey Swantek, a freshman ag education major and Massengale resident from Genoa, Nebraska.
“She's amazing. We all love her so much. Right off the bat, every morning, she would have a smile on her face — asking us how we’re doing, telling us to have a wonderful day,” Swantek said. “The rest of the day, I would be in a better mood.”
After the university announced it was canceling in-person classes on March 12, Swantek wanted to find a way to say thank you.
“When we found out that we were basically shutting down, I texted our floor group chat and said, ‘In case you didn’t notice, Tammy is amazing, and I think we need to do something for her,’” Swantek said.
De Leon is thankful for the kind gesture, and she’s looking forward to having students back on campus in the future.
“I miss them already, and it hasn’t even been that long. It just feels empty without them,” De Leon said. “I want everyone to have good luck and be safe.”