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10 Questions With Redifer Commons Star Ruth Brotzman

If you’re heading to Redifer Commons to make your own salad or pick up some pasta, you’ll most likely run into Ruth Brotzman, better known to some as the human form of sunshine.

From the time she stepped onto University Park’s campus, Brotzman knew she would always find her way back to know every Penn State student by name.

We virtually sat down with Brotzman about her time working at Penn State, her favorite part of seeing students each day, and more.

Onward State: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Ruth Brotzman: ​Long ago, and far away, my journey as a first-generation college student began from a small town northeast of Pittsburgh to University Park where I lived in Heister Hall. While there I met my best friend, and I married him. When I returned to Penn State to work on my master’s degree, I encountered some people from Campus Crusade for Christ (now called CRU), and gave my life to Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. Throughout our life together, we had two girls and one boy.

OS: How long have you worked with Redifer Commons. What made you want to work there?

RB:  Our youngest, a son, decided in 10th grade that the only college he wanted to attend was Penn State, so I started applying to jobs there in order to get the seventy-five percent discount for him. On December 1, 2014, our son’s senior year, I started working in Redifer Dining Commons as a Customer Service Representative (CSR).

OS: What type of jobs have you done working in the commons?

RB: Although I have been a CSR at most of the stations at Redifer, I have not had a desire to move into a full-year position. I love having summers off with my husband, family, and grandchildren. 

OS: What does a typical work day look like for you?

RB: ​My job as a CSR is basically swiping cards and making sure that the card handed to me belongs to the person holding it. The first week of swiping cards at In a Pickle, the Lord spoke to my heart and said to speak the names on the cards. I agreed but soon told the Lord that that was not enough and that He would have to help me learn the students’ names.

OS: What do you look forward to each shift?

RB: The best part of my job is being able to interact with the students that come to my station, say their names, and watch many eyes light up as they realize I recognize them and know their names.

OS: What is your favorite part of working at Redifer?

RB: ​There is a great joy for me to be able to encourage students on their journey through college and hear their plans when they are seniors ready to graduate.

OS: What piece of advice would you like to share with students?

RB: Work hard and enjoy the journey. If you don’t, you may get to where you had hoped to be but find it is not what you had hoped.

OS: How do you feel knowing you brighten students’ days with your generous and outgoing personality?

RB: Surprised, but encouraged to continue. I want students to know that they are seen.

OS: What are some of your hobbies outside of working at Redifer?

RB: My favorite pastime is gardening. I love my life in my small town, with my wonderful husband and my beautiful, amazing, super-smart children and grandchildren, traveling an hour to work four days a week to be blessed by so many great Penn State students. My life is so blessed, so full.

OS: As per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which would you be and why?

RB: ​If I could be a dinosaur, I would choose to be a pterodactyl so I could soar in the clouds and touch the sky!

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About the Author

Larkin Richards

Larkin is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. The only words that leave her mouth are "yinz" and "dippy eggs." Luckily, her writing has much more substance than that. As a Steelers and Pirates fan, sports can become a hot debate. Share your thoughts on dogs (specifically Boston Terriers) with her at: [email protected]

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