Tight squeeze

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Tight squeeze

Sandra Patterson (right), a food services employee, hugs Audrey Runnels, a sophomore exercise and sports science major from Bainbridge, at Snelling Dining Commons. Students set up a Facebook fan page for Patterson and her hugs.

Photo by: Dorothy Kozlowski

Sandra Patterson’s hugs are famous across campus. A cashier at Snelling Dining Commons, she gives everyone who comes through her turnstile a big smile, an enthusiastic greeting and a hug. She greets students by name and asks them about their classes and their day. She’ll even call out to wish them luck on their tests as they leave. Patterson describes herself as a “fill-in mom” for all the students away from home. “Sometimes they actually come here in tears,” she said “And I have to hug ’em and let ’em know it’s gonna be okay.”

Daniel Ivey (BS’06) remembers the difference Patterson made for him. “Sandra made my experience at UGA feel like I had a mother or grandmother, even though I was away from home,” he said.

Patterson received a customer service award from the Division of Finance and Administration in 2007, but says that she doesn’t worry about awards. “They are my reward,” she said about the students she sees day-in and day-out.

All of the students give good hugs, but the football players can be a little too enthusiastic. “Sometimes they hug me so tight they pick me up,” she said with a laugh. “And I have to tell them ‘put me down, boy.’ ”