April 28, 2006

Feature Story

Restaurant Family/ Peterson

On a busy Saturday morning, customers wait in a restaurant doorway for an open table. A busser in a green t-shirt and brown ponytail rushes to clear dirty dishes and wipe tables clean. Waitresses nearly collide with each other and customers in their hurry to bring steaming plates of eggs and pancakes. The sound of laughter mixes with the clank of the dishes being washed in the back.
"Mom, table 33 is clean and ready," said the young busser. "Do you want me to menu them for you?"
The older waitress with a matching ponytail smiles gratefully and nods, then rushes back to the kitchen for another order.
Sheri Fisher, age 17, works nearly every Saturday morning with her mother Diane. She also shares this shift with her brother, Mark, who works in the dish room, and her grandmother Joann Kent who is also a waitress.
Because of the limited availability of jobs in their small town, it's not uncommon that they choose to work in this friendly, busy restaurant.
"They're all good workers," said Sean Steiben. "We'd hire more of 'em if there were any!"
Diane's husband commutes to work every morning and Joann's husband has retired several years earlier. Joann says that she can't stand to sit at home and loves chatting with her neighbors who she sees often at work.
"I've been working here for over 30 years," said Joann later on. "I taught my daughter everything she knows about waiting tables."
She enjoys a cigarette and flips through an old magazine at the scarred break table at the back of the restaurant. She is wearing black sneakers and complains about her aching feet.
Back in the restaurant, the breakfast rush has died down. Diane and Sheri are at work, carrying dishes, restocking napkins and re-arranging tables in preparation for the lunch crowd. Diane smooths a few dollar bills before putting them into her black apron.
She chose to come back to work five years ago after being a homemaker. Just like Sheri, she started her career here cleaning tables.
"I like the money," Diane says. "The hours aren't the greatest, but we're going to need the extra cash to help with college."
Just like the other waitresses, Diane has to share a portion of her daily tips with the bussers.
"My mom tips me fairly just like everyone else," said Sheri. She hopes to save this money to put towards college at the U of M next year. She's interested in possibly becoming a grade-school teacher.
In the back parking lot, two young teenage boys wait for their afternoon shift to start. As Joann exits the backdoor, carrying her purse and waitressing apron, she spots them and stops by for a quick chat.
"Hi Grandma, did your shift go well?" said Mark. She pressed a handful of dollars into his hand and told him to "spend it wisely."
"My Grandma is so cool to work with," he said after she left. "She always brings me money or candy."
Mark just started at the restaurant as a dishwasher this past year, and hopes to work his way up to fry cook by next year.
"The brother and sister don't get along so well some days," said Darlene Hart, a fellow coworker, with a laugh. "But other than that, they're all a fun bunch to work with."

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April 5, 2006

Taxi Program/ Peterson

It's gotten easier for UMD students to find a safe, reliable ride home after a night on the town, thanks to the new Bulldog Taxi Program.
The Student Association-run program began in early March, and provides students with $2.00 cab rides per person/ per ride. Hours start at 9:00 p.m. through 6:00 a.m. every day of the week.
"I feel like it will keep people from driving drunk," said Renee Sawinski, a UMD freshman. "I know I will take advantage of it- I already have last Saturday!"
Students can sign up for no cost at the Student Activities Office located in the Kirby Student Center. You will need a U-card, as well as your age and current place of residence. This information will be used to keep track of the number of students using the program.
"I didn't have any form of transportation when I when I first went to college," said Ryan Souba, a UMD senior. "This would've been so useful back then."
Students will receive a taxi pass to verify that they are a member of the Program.
"I feel much more confident leaving campus knowing that I can count on the taxi service to provide me with safe transportation," said Kristine Bergren, also a UMD freshman.
The conditions of the Bulldog Taxi Program has been in constant debate since the beginning of last semester. The hard work of the Student Association seemed about to go to waste when the cab company suddenly disagreed to the set conditions. The arguments arose due to a disagreement over insurance requirements in the beginning of this semester.
The university requires an insurance coverage of no less than $1 million combined coverage expense per accident associated with the university. The cab company requires at least $2 million.
"A general council staff of lawyers and the cab company have each had to bargain," said Jeni Kiewatt, Taxi Program Director and student at UMD.
An agreement was reached earlier this semester, bargaining down to UMD's standards. The Student Association has been busy working to stir up student support and interest.
"We've had a table set up in Kirby for most of March," said Kiewatt. "We hope this will help to advertise the Bulldog Taxi Program."
The certainty of keeping program is unstable, according to Kiewatt. A big factor in determining the longevity of the Bulldog Taxi Program is based on reports from the cab company and UMD's board of lawyers. The main factor is based on the amount of student support.
"The program is tentative for now," said Kiewatt, Taxi Program Director . "But with enough support from students, I think this program will be here for good."
For More Information: Stop by the Student Activities Office located in the Kirby Student Center or email Jeni Kiewatt at

March 7, 2006

Fundraiser Story

Students mill about, wandering among tables covered with hundreds of loose sheets of paper and envelopes. Workers in white and blue t-shirts are spread among them, helping the various volunteers. One worker with a blonde pony-tail and red name-tag supervises the others and smiles at the students with encouragement.

"We had cancer in my family," said Ashlee Hunter, program organizer and University of Minnesota-Duluth student. "It makes me happy to know that I can give back in some way."

UMD's Out Cold celebration, a week-long series of light-hearted student events including highlights such as a chicken-strip eating challenge, concluded with a rather odd grand finale: a fundraiser.

Participants in the event were asked to bring 50 addresses of friends and family to send out pre-written letters asking for donation. The letters were provided by St. Jude's hospital. All donations are instructed to be returned directly to the hospital. On average, each letter brings in a $20 donation.

After the letters were addressed and collected, a speaker was brought in to tell about his experience as a St. Jude's Hospital patient.

"I was very moved by the speaker," said one UMD student. "It makes me feel even better about mailing all those letters!"

Pizza, chips, pop and other various goodies were provided for the students, as well as a DJ and a variety games for participants to engage in. Prizes were given away, ranging from gift cards and t-shirts to MN Wild tickets.

"I'm so excited!" said a lucky ticket winner. "I didn't expect to come to a fundraiser and win something too."

Up Til Dawn contacted various businesses and raised awareness about the fundraiser. All of the prizes given to the students were donated for the cause.

"I was surprised," said one of the participants. "I didn't know that fundraising could be so much fun."

The event, held Saturday, was sponsored by Up Til Dawn, a student-led group who helped to organize the fundraiser and guide fellow students through the fundraising process. They hope to raise money to donate to the hospital to help children with cancer.

"I love kids," said Hunter. " I am focusing on early childhood studies so I was very excited to be able to help out."

The Up Til Dawn volunteers worked hard to advertise for the fundraiser. They also helped to prepare the letters and arrange for the various fun events that occurred after the fundraiser.

"Last semester we received $3,750," said Hunter. "We decided to hold a second fundraiser to help out the foundation even more."

The organization hopes to match the funds brought in by last semester's letters. It could be weeks before the letters are returned and donations can be calculated.

The event is held annually at UMD, and at many other schools throughout the state. This is the first year that the letter-writing fundraiser was held twice at the University.

February 13, 2006

Job Fair Speech

Students at University of Minnesota-Duluth were given the keys to a successful job fair experience in a speech conducted by Janet Prybil last Thursday.
"The secret to success at a job fair is preparation," said Prybil, a counselor who has been with the university's Career Services Department for 17 years. A majority of her audience was composed of university juniors and seniors, but underclassmen were encouraged to attend similar meetings within the next few weeks.
The lecture, which lasted about an hour, gave students clues as to how they should prepare for the upcoming UM Job and Internship Fair held on February 20th in Minneapolis. A step-by-step presentation was given with the aid of provided computers and handouts outlining the speech, as well as instructions on how to register online to attend the fair.
Prybil discussed the various procedures involving the job fair, including transportation options and a general layout of the fair which is to be held at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
"There is going to be lots of noise, lots of people, lots of stuff going on," said Prybil. "You're going there to make contacts with the employers."
Interview tips were also given, ranging from what to wear to what types of questions to expect.
"You do want to look professional," said Prybil. "You want to show the employer that you're taking the process seriously."
Prybil provided useful information about the interviews, including a time frame of anywhere from five to thirty minutes in length.
When questioned about the scarcity of jobs offered by the interviewers, Prybil said, "They are there to talk to you about all positions." Further information was provided on the types of businesses that were going to be present and how to research these establishments ahead of time.
She also stressed the importance of thank you notes following the job fair by saying "If you want to be considered serious by this employer, you've got to do it on a thank you letter!"
Prybil provided students with an array of helpful options when preparing for the job fair including the website offered by the University of Minnesota, several handouts and a recommended interview guide: Knock Em Dead by Martin Yate.
"Don't expect a job offer," said Prybil, "If you allow yourself time to prepare ahead of time, the job fair can be very beneficial."

February 12, 2006


I figured it out! I am a blogger!