BY SABA FIAZUDDIN ’21
If you happen to stop by Rockefeller dining hall for lunch any day during the week you will likely run into Leslie Crossen, a checker who has been working in the dining hall since 2016. Unbeknownst to Leslie, her uncle John Herr also worked as a checker at Rockies in the exact same spot for 15 years before he retired two years ago. Leslie remembers the shock when, during her interview with Dining Services, the interviewer told her that she would be taking John Herr’s spot. “I knew he worked at a women’s college but I always assumed it was Elms College in Chicopee,” said Crossen. “My cheeks turned red when I realized I would be filling my uncle’s shoes; I couldn’t believe it. I always remembered him telling me that I should work [where he did] because it’s such a great place but I never knew he was talking about Mount Holyoke.”
Crossen said she enjoys working at Mount Holyoke because she gets to see young women do what she always wanted to do. Leslie graduated from Westfield State University in 1989 when calling oneself a feminist was extremely radical. “It was considered such a dirty word, but I was a feminist anyway,” said Crossen. “They would call me a communist and all sorts of things because they couldn’t understand that [feminism] is just another word for human rights. It’s so great now seeing young women proudly call themselves feminists here.”
Crossen has a diverse resume; she’s been a firefighter, EMT, teacher and mother. When recounting these experiences she said, “They said I was too small but I proved to them I was just as capable. I did everything men are expected to do.”
For Crossen, one of the great joys of working at Mount Holyoke is interacting with students. “Students are so nice and considerate. If they spill something they don’t have to clean it up but they always offer.”
The feeling is mutual. “Leslie is someone who is always so warm and welcoming,” said Amaya Choksi ’21. “She always greets you with a smile and asks you how your day is.”
Crossen said one of the benefits of the new community center opening in 2018 is the chance to see students more often. “I am so used to seeing some students at least twice a day but then they move away to other dorms and I very rarely get to see them again. That’s why the expansion will be great because I’ll be able to see students I haven’t met before and also students I haven’t seen in a long time,” said Crossen.
One of the downsides to “SuperBlanch,” however, is parting with the staff at the Rockies. “I am so lucky to be able to work with them. They are so nice and many of them have been working here for 10 or 15 years. It will be very different working with an entirely new group of people but I am hoping everyone will be as nice as the staff here,” Crossen added.
In the future, Crossen wants to continue working at Mount Holyoke while also taking classes here. She has a bachelor’s in English literature and has already written three unpublished novels. “I don’t know how I should go about getting them published but they are fully completed. If I self-publish them I’ll have to do marketing which I am not sure how to go about doing but I definitely want to continue writing,” said Crossen. She plans on taking classes in creative writing and other subjects that will help her enter the nonprofit field. She said, “I want to work as a rescuer for animals or [with] children because I really want to help others. Girls’ education is something that is very important as well. I would love to send books to young girls in places where they don’t have the same privileges students here do.”
Emily Roles Fotso ’21 describes Crossen as “a kind and cheerful person who always makes meal times a little brighter.” Other students like Brandy Williamson ’18 offered their glowing impressions of Leslie. Williamson said, “You will always catch her with a smile on her face. She is the person you go to when you are having a bad day.”