MC Coffee Shop Manager's Special Blend of Positive Energy Earns DBT's MVP Award
With an infectious laugh and an enthusiasm that belies her age – which, she is proud to say, is 66, although you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who’d actually believe it – Ollie Rose Griffin is one of the most popular staff members at Mississippi College.
Each day, “Mrs. Rose” holds court in the Starbucks coffee shop at the entrance to the Leland Speed Library, greeting all who come in her orbit with a smile, breaking into an impromptu song or dance while fulfilling an order, and making everyone feel special.
Through the years, her positive influence has made a difference in the lives of countless students, faculty and staff. It also led Dr. Blake Thompson, MC president, to surprise her with his DBT’s MVP Award for February 2022.
When he presented her with the award – a newly crafted bobblehead of a smiling Thompson in full golfing attire standing next to a golf cart, a trophy that is passed from one DBT’s winner to the next each month, along with a T-shirt, a special parking space, and a $50 gift card – Mrs. Rose responded in the most authentic way possible.
“I just started dancing, and I ran up and gave him a big hug,” she said. “I was so excited. It makes me so happy when people think about me.”
People at the Christian University have thought a lot of Mrs. Rose for a long time. After a 20-year career at Jitney Jungle, the Clinton resident came to MC in 2002 and has been sharing her special brand of positive energy on campus ever since.
"The food service employees at Mississippi College have a unique opportunity to touch and influence so many lives each and every day," said Mike Prince, MC catering service manager. "Rose is one of those employees who relishes the opportunity to make the people she comes into contact with feel special.
"Her energy and excitement, accompanied by her trademark 'heyyyy' - she likes to drag out the 'y' - have always made her work areas popular hangout spots for all. No one is anymore deserving of the MVP Award than Mrs. Rose."
Mrs. Rose said she draws her inspiration from the students she encounters in the shop every day.
“These kids, they’re the best kids I’ve ever met,” she said. “I’ve never had one bad child. All through the years, they’ve always been so nice to me.”
And why wouldn’t they? Especially since Mrs. Rose goes out of her way to remember their names, entertain, and even inspire them.
When Christin Jimerson of Jackson, a senior in the MC School of Nursing, walked into the coffee shop this week, Mrs. Rose sprang into action before she could even say a word.
“I know what she wants every time she comes in,” Mrs. Rose said as she began preparing a delectable mocha Frappuccino.
“She’s very caring and very sweet,” said Jimerson, who just started visiting the shop last fall. “It feels very welcoming. She makes me feel happy, especially if I’m not having a good day.”
Jimerson’s experience mirrors those of several students who nominated Mrs. Rose for the award. A sampling of their comments:
“She is always in a great mood and has on a smile.”
“Every time she sees me, she will say, ‘Hey, beautiful,’ or ‘How are you doing?’”
“She is always so sweet to everyone that comes to get coffee. I would go as far as saying that some people go get coffee just to see her!”
“She makes all of our days (the students’) a little bit brighter.”
“She loves us, and we love her!”
Mrs. Rose inspires similar responses from her coworkers. Leigh Ainsworth, a baker at MC for about eight years, said she has come to depend on Mrs. Rose’s consistency.
“She’s always the same, all the time,” Ainsworth said. “She’s always happy. Anytime I’m having a hard day, I come see Mrs. Rose and get a hug. And she’s funny. Mrs. Rose is hilarious.
“She helps you get through the day. She sure deserves the award. She should always be the MVP all the time.”
Mrs. Rose, who overheard Ainsworth’s comment, playfully replied, “Then you wouldn’t be able to win the award!”
“Well, you’re my MVP all the time,” Ainsworth said. “I can’t imagine a more deserving person. She’s so sweet to the students. So many of these kids have probably never been without their parents before, and having a person to welcome them can really make a difference.”
Especially one grounded in faith. The source of Mrs. Rose’s positivity can be traced directly to one of Jesus’ most famous commands, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12 NIV)
“I never want anyone to see me having a bad day, even when I’m having one,” Mrs. Rose said. “I need to laugh and smile and treat people right, because that’s the way I would like to be treated. Because when I go somewhere else, I want to be treated that way.”
And when she’s not?
“Then I’m so nice to them, they look up at me surprised,” she said. “Maybe by doing that, I can change their attitude, too.”
She said helping others maintain a positive attitude about the world around them is no small matter.
“These kids love it when you treat them nice, call them by their name,” she said. “It’s personal. I want them to walk away saying, ‘Wow, Mrs. Rose is a real nice lady.’”