A mother looking to earn her display cook qualification. A feminist enthralled with volleyball. These are the people creating the rich burrito bar, the sweet churros, and the steaming tomato soup of the Stone-Davis dining hall.
The Wellesley News interviewed two dining hall workers, Claudia Gonzalez and Roselle (Rosie) Andre, to shed light on the humans behind the counters.
Claudia Gonzalez (GSW Worker)
Claudia Gonzalez has worked at Wellesley College for nearly five years. She spent her first two years at the College Club, providing for functions and reunions, before moving to the Stone-Davis kitchen amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I used to work there [the College Club], and then they moved me because they closed that place, so I had to choose which kitchen [to move to], and I chose to come here [to Stone-Davis],” Gonzalez said.
As a General Service Worker (GSW), Gonzalez washes pots and pans and sometimes takes on the role of general cook.
“I’m very happy with the job. Seriously. I mean, the pots and pans are very hard and it’s not an easy job, but I mean, I like it. I came here happy, and that’s what I tell my coworkers. You have to like what you do, and so far I like it,” Gonzalez said.
A large source of Gonzalez’s contentment comes from her daily interactions with students. She specifically notes her pride in connecting with students from El Salvador, her home country, from which she came 21 years ago at age 16.
“I have many [students], who you know, are my friends. I get to know this one especially because she’s from my country, the only Salvadorian I know that comes to this college. Her name is Elizabeth. I’m very proud that she’s here,” Gonzalez said.
Outside of work, Gonzalez enjoys spending time with her two daughters, Zoe and Giselle, aged six and 16. Gonzalez’s sister and mother help take care of Zoe and Giselle when she is working from Tuesday through Saturday.
“I like to go out with my daughters to the restaurants, to the mall … Giselle’s very mature. She’s a very good girl, very, very smart … I’m very comfortable working because I know my daughters are good and somebody is with them,” Gonzalez said.
Moving forward, Gonzalez has hopes of earning a display cook qualification to achieve a new position in the kitchen.
“You have to take a test, you have to study, you need to know a lot of cooking stuff, so that way you can go to a different position … For example, to work at the pizza station, you need to have the display cook qualification, you’re not gonna see a GSW cooking over there, so that’s what I’m trying to do,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez’s aspirations stem from her desire to do her best work along with her optimistic outlook on life. Ultimately, Gonzales emphasizes that her goal is to provide for students and to be there for them.
“We all try hard here to have all the food ready and good, you know? Hopefully you guys enjoy it because we’re here for you guys. Seriously, we are, and we try our best for you. That’s what we do,” Gonzalez said.
Roselle Andre (Head Cook)
Roselle, or Rosie, Andre is the head cook of the Stone-Davis kitchen. In a little over a month, on Nov. 25, she will have worked at the college for 18 years. She has worked in the Stone-Davis kitchen for the past six years.
“I came here [to America] in 2001. I started at Ruby Tuesday … then moved to another job, Roche Bros, here in Wellesley. Then I heard about Wellesley College … and then I started as third cook [in 2005] … and now I am a head cook here [at Stone-Davis],” Andre said.
When Andre first moved to America from Brazil, she had a difficult time learning English. However, she held faith in herself and persisted through the challenges of living in a foreign country.
“To be honest, English for me when I started was very difficult. I learn, I study, I know I have a lot more to learn. So I know I do not have a perfect English … This is very difficult for me … I was thinking about giving up on my first month working here and then I talked to myself and said, ‘No, I’m not gonna give up. I can do it. A lot of people can do it, why I cannot do it?’ And then I did it. I did. 18 years,” Andre said.
Now, Andre finds immense joy in her job, especially in working with the people — whom she refers to as friends — in the Stone-Davis kitchen.
“I love it here, especially the people, the coworkers. We like each other. We work as a team. We help each other,” Andre said.
Furthermore, working at a historically women’s college is an enriching experience that fills Andre with a sense of duty.
“Being at a women’s college is very important. I’m a feminist. I fight for our rights. It’s very important for everyone to have rights and to treat us with respect … It’s important for men and women to have the same level, as a job, as a human being,” Andre said. “When I got this job it made me so happy, so happy, because especially I believe in us. I believe in women and our power.”
Looking back at her time at Wellesley, Andre reflects proudly on the progress she has made, both personally and professionally.
“See[ing] how I became the woman that I became since I started working here, I changed a lot for good. Especially because I’m feeding people. It is important for me … In my last kitchen, Bates, I was a second cook, and I started at Caz[enove] … as a third cook, so the one thing that makes me so proud is how I grow here. It makes me so proud,” Andre said.
Her love for feeding students is evident in her ability to recall specific moments when students enjoyed her food. Andre especially takes pride in cooking traditional Brazilian meals such as feijoada, frango com quiabo, and fish stew.
“The first time I cooked feijoada here, I saw girls came and checked the sign. It makes me so happy … They came up with a small plate, and they put a little bit and then later on they came back and have a big plate!” Andre said.
In her free time, she stays home, or spends the day at the movie theater, going from movie to movie, or watches sports.
“If I was staying in Brazil today, I would like to … write about sports … I used to play soccer in college, [and] I was very good in volleyball. I watch every, all kinds of sports,” Andre said.
Andre’s passion for life extends well beyond the Stone-Davis kitchen, and she expresses a particular devotion to the women in her life. In referring to Claudia Gonzalez, Andre deems her ‘her best friend.’
“She’s my best friend. She’s my best friend. We help each other. Especially for the girls. Yeah, we don’t do it for us. This is very important. This is very important. We do it for you girls,” Andre said.