From the Frontline is an ongoing series highlighting members of the Florida Tech community who are working tirelessly to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
In this installment, Christina Johnson discusses her role as the Supervisor of Panther Dining Hall.
Q: Please describe your duties related to the university’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Christina Johnson: Currently, I and our management team work together to make sure not only that our students feel safe but our staff, as well. At Panther Dining Hall, we have implemented multiple, new safety protocols such as servicing students on the line, providing takeout to maintain social distancing protocols, and implementing a more prominent sanitation and disinfectant protocol for staff. My personal duties are to make sure that as we provide great service, our staff is being safe and that we are abiding by coronavirus pandemic safety recommendations and adapting as needed.
Q: What does it mean to you to play such a key role in assisting the university during this time?
CJ: I feel very honored and proud to be a part of such a great team. It was a challenge to basically change our whole structure of how we serve our customers at Panther Dining Hall. However, our staff were very responsive to the change and our transition went as smooth as we could have imagined, almost overnight.
Q: Talk about some successes and challenges during this unique time.
CJ: I’m very proud of our staff. From the pandemic, we’ve had to make a lot of changes to our structure and how we serve our students, staff and faculty. Panther Dining Hall staff have risen to the challenge of implementing the new social distancing and sanitation protocols. They also have been shifting around and doing jobs they have never done before and stepping up to make sure that even during this challenging time, our customers are receiving the best service.
Q: From your vantage point, how well has the university responded to this pandemic?
CJ: I respect how the university has responded. Their first concern was not only the safety of our students, but the safety of our staff, as well. I know that a lot of these decisions were not easily made but I feel that when this pandemic was in the early stages, Florida Tech made swift decisions that protected our university family. I am glad to be a part of that effort.
Q: Anyone in the campus community you’d like to highlight?
CJ: Truly our staff is the heart of Panther Dining Hall. Evan Olsen and Tom Stewart really stepped up with a great safety protocols for this pandemic and implemented them quickly so that our staff and customers would be safe. Our line staff truly care about our students, and I’m sure the changes caused by the pandemic have been difficult for them. Our staff have always brought a connection that feels like home to some of these kids. One of my staff, Bela Patel, knows a lot of our students by name, always asks them how their day is going and brings a smile to their faces which, during these times, to me is one of the most important things we can do. Tita Criger, Sherena Budhu and Camden Newell, our made-to-order-breakfast cooks, always are talking to the students and making them laugh and checking on them to make sure they are doing okay. None of this is part of our staff’s jobs but they do it because they genuinely care about how these students are and even how staff and faculty are doing during this unconventional time.
Q: What is a key thing for people to remember during this pandemic?
CJ: I think one of the most important things we can remember is to be kind to one another. This is something that we are all going through together. During this pandemic, I have seen so much kindness at Panther Dining Hall. A lot of Florida Tech family that has been coming into the dining hall has been telling our staff ‘thank you’ and how much they appreciate us being here, and that means the world to them. So thank you to anyone who has made their day – and mine. If we can remember to be kind and continue working together, I’m sure Florida Tech will continue to thrive. We will get through this unprecedented time.
Find the university’s latest coronavirus updates and information on the Coronavirus Central webpage.