Everyone on campus knows the face of the Café’s lead barista, Ann Dondelinger-Migatz. In her five years serving up coffee and treats, Ann has met just about every student, staff, or faculty member on campus. The job for Ann is about so much more than serving coffee, it's about community.
"There is so much community around coffee, and I'm honored that I get to help create that experience and space," Dondelinger-Migatz said. Ann is a confidant, advisors, cheerleader, and much more to ECC's students. Whether it's helping them navigate the college system, or just lending a friendly ear, she loves being a constant presence for people.
"I am there for [a student's] highest highs and lowest lows," she explained. "Students share their joys and fears, achievements and failures, and everyday stories with me. I love that we have that level of trust."
Read on to learn more about ECC's unofficial "Mom":
In your words, what do you do at ECC? What do you want others to know about your job? Or what would help others understand your job?
As a barista, I have a unique opportunity to interact with a majority of the campus daily. Not only am I crafting different drinks, but I am given the chance to get to know, interact with, and inspire many colleagues and students. The impact that I'm able to make on students, staff, and faculty alike has shown me that I do so much more than serve coffee.
I'm reminded of this achievement every time a student comes by and acknowledges they haven't seen me in a while, or when faculty ask when I'll be working next because they want to come when I'm there. Once, there was a student who told me they had been having some of the most troubling, scary thoughts one could have, but they thought of me during those moments, and it kept them going. Moments like those are special and continuously remind me that I have an important job that does more than providing drinks. I create a safe, fun, welcoming space for all.
What is your greatest accomplishment since you've been here?
I think that one of my greatest accomplishments since I've been at ECC, is the way I've continued and enhanced the reputation of the coffee shop. Learning all the ropes from my predecessor Margie (Cullotta Lombardo), I saw how she captivated her customers and made this area a place people are excited to visit. I think I have been able to continue that feel while making it my own, and that's something I'm very proud of doing.
Name a job or role at ECC that you would like to try for one day and explain why.
I'd for sure try out a job in the Marketing Department for a day - maybe specifically with Mark [Carriveau, college photographer]. It sounds like so much fun to get to go to different events to take pictures and talk to everyone.
If you could instantly be an expert in one thing, what would you choose?
I have always had a love for the medical field. I find the anatomy and functions of the human body fascinating. That being said, if I could instantly learn a discipline, it would be cardiology. The heart is one of the most interesting parts of our body, and there is so much to learn! The ability to work within a hospital and be of service to someone in such a critical way is incredible.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work (i.e., hobbies/interests)?
Walking…not so much being on a treadmill. Outdoors and gardening…not so much pulling weeds. College football and basketball…not so much professional soccer and WWE. Cooking, baking, grilling, building, construction not so much cleaning up the mess. Mountains and ocean…not so much the desert. Stock car and NASCAR…not so much open wheel. And of course, rooting for the Tennessee Volunteers!
If you could live in a TV show, which show would it be, and why?
Friday Night Lights. As no surprise to anyone, I would like to be in that small-town atmosphere where everyone knows everyone and the entire town watches football on Fridays. However, I would want to work for Coach Taylor- I think he's an excellent coach and knows how to motivate his team!
Where is the best place you've traveled? Or where would you like to visit?
The best place I've traveled to is the Great Smokey Mountains in Tennessee. I particularly enjoy going in the fall when you can see all the colors. It's breathtakingly beautiful. Besides the mountains, I will always choose to go to the ocean. There's nothing quite like being near the water on God's playground. Being there is so humbling and grounding.
You have to wear a t-shirt with just one word on it for an entire year. What word would that word be, and why?
It would definitely be the word "Sunshine." Not only is that the nickname of my favorite character from Remember the Titans, but it has become a common nickname for me as well. People often tell me I am great at demonstrating positivity and shining a light on all situations. It's a powerful word that I love to spread.
Share a fact about you that might surprise people to learn.
I know my way around a garage. I prefer DeWalt tools and have no problem being a "handyman" by using power tools, saws, and other construction materials. It would not be uncommon to see me working out there with the guys moving concrete blocks or digging a trench for a fence post.
What job have you held (besides ECC) that was the most fun, interesting, or difficult? Explain why.
One of my all-time favorite jobs was being the President and CEO of the South Elgin Chamber of Commerce. Every day was something new, and I always had the flexibility to be creative from the way we hosted events to how we gained members. I loved that job, and while it had its own set of challenges, especially when we had to close because of the recession in 2008, it was one of the best careers I ever had.
Name someone you admire and explain why.
I admire my husband and two daughters for their endless drive for success and making a positive impact on others. I wouldn't be the person I am without them.
What was your most valuable life lesson?
While they are perfect on pancakes and waffles, there is a limit to how many blueberries one should consume. Just trust me.
Complete this sentence: "I enjoy working at ECC because … "
Outside of the incredible students and continuous interaction with them, I really enjoy getting to work with people from all the other departments on campus. What starts with Marketing staff getting coffee at 8:10 a.m., quickly turns into a conversation about our kids and what the score of the game was last night. The camaraderie that I have seen naturally evolve with people from all parts of the campus is invaluable. It's what makes me sad when it's Friday and excited to be at work on Monday.