Gloria Peterson, food service associate, was inducted this October into Aramark’s 2017 “Ring of the Stars” class.
Each year, coworkers, managers and business leaders nominate a plethora of Aramark employees for the honor. For the 2017 cycle, over 1000 nominations were submitted from 20 nations across the world that host Aramark establishments.
Aramark awards the honor to employees who encapsulate the core values of the company.
Only 200 employees were selected and inducted. These Service Stars were given an all-expenses paid trip to Phoenix, Arizona, where a four- day event was held in their honor. Each honoree received a special gold ring from Aramark President and CEO Eric Foss to commemorate their attributes and contributions to Aramark and their communities.
Peterson, affectionately known by students and faculty as “Miss Gloria,” has been working at the Fresh Food Company in the University of Southern Mississippi’s Thad Cochran center for 25 years.
Peterson is known for key catchphrases such as “How you percolating?” “It’s Friday!” and “Hump Day!” as well as her upbeat attitude and compassion toward those she encounters.
USM alum Samantha Farley gave a testimony regarding Peterson’s kindness.
“I was having a rough time because my grandmother had just passed away,” Farley said. “I had just returned from her funeral, and I was still quite upset about it the following morning. I was crying the majority of that day, but that morning Miss Gloria saw me as I came into the Fresh. She started to say ‘Good morning, it’s Friday!’ but she stopped midway when she noticed I was upset.”
“She had asked me what was wrong and, of course, I told her,” Farley said. “She immediately stopped what she was doing and came around the corner and gave me a hug and held me a little bit. She asked if she could pray for me. After she prayed for me, she went and got me some tissues and sat down with me a little bit until I calmed down, making sure she got me to at least smile and laugh once before I left the Fresh. I’ll never forget her doing that. It really meant a lot to me during that hard time.”
Farley’s case was not an isolated one. Other students, past and present, have similar stories.
Another USM alum, Paige Odom- Hover, said that Peterson would come over whenever she said Odom- Hover eating alone and ask how she was and state that it was a great day.
Odom-Hover said, “Her upbeat personality and positive outlook on life were traits that were easily transferred over to whomever she spoke with, and if I was having a bad day, I was always thankful for that.”
Julian Richardson, a senior polymer science and engineering double- major at USM, said, “[Peterson’s attitude] reassures me that one can appreciate life and be happy no matter what happens in your life.”
Peterson continues to impact the lives of students by serving up both meals and smiles in the Fresh almost every day.