The friendliest face at King's

Lunch counter employee Zona Roberts a constant in students' lives

Zona Roberts serves King's students a daily dose of coffee, news and friendship at the Wardroom snack bar. (Photo: Sam Riches)

Zona Roberts does her best to make sure no student goes hungry at the University of King's College.

"There are a lot of students that are literally starving and I cannot let them starve. So if there is a kid that needs lunch, then he gets lunch," says Roberts.

The students - she affectionately refers to as the "kiddies" - rely on Roberts for a daily dose of coffee, news and friendship.

Roberts is one of the most recognized faces at King's.

Having worked the lunch counter in the Wardroom, which doubles as the campus pub, for the past ten years, she says nothing but glowing things about the job, the students and the atmosphere at King's.

And the students have nothing but glowing things to say about her.

"Zona is one of the friendliest faces at King's," says Dave Kumagai, a fourth-year journalism student. "She's someone you can always go to and just have a friendly conversation with. She has great rapport with everyone on campus."

Hailing from Straitsview, a small fishing village on the northern tip of Newfoundland, Roberts embraces the intimate environment of the university.

Prior to her arrival at King's, Roberts worked in food services with Sodexo's Ottawa branch. She still works for Sodexo - but the similarities stop there. "I got the kiddies here, up there it was business people, not the same at all," she says.

The relationship Roberts has with the students is so strong that her own children, Andrea and Justin, who are both living in St. John's, often remind her that she has two of her own. "They know how close I am with the kids here."

Last year Roberts was elected honorary class president. She also received this honour in 2007, but in 2008 she declined, to "give someone else a chance," says Sodexo colleague Liz Maskell.

For many students, Roberts is more than just a friendly face.

"She's there as a sounding board for a lot of the students," says co-worker Colleen Macdonald.

"She likes to get to know people, their problems, help them. You know anything she can do for them. I think it's because she has children of her own that it carries over into her profession."

In her 2008 valedictorian address, Claire Guyer said, "What do you do without Zona in the Wardroom to provide endless coffee and the latest news?"

"I just listen," says Roberts. "And sometimes that's all they need. They tell me I am their mom away from home."

As a token of their appreciation the students held a fundraiser last year to help her buy a motorbike.

"The kids raised $300 toward the bike. I wanted to bring it into the Wardroom and say, ‘this is what you guys bought me,' because they did."

Comments

Yay Zona!! We love you!

Posted by Katie | Dec 11, 2021

I am so very proud of you Zona!!!!They are just saying what i've been saying all my life, you are a very special lady and I'm so much better of a person because of what you bring to my life just by being a part of it. I love you auntie xoxoxoxoxo

Posted by Cheryl Noseworthy | Dec 11, 2021

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