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November 16, 2021

Student Bridges Communities and Nourishes Lives

Em Smail, JCCC Food Court Supervisor, takes the Dining Services slogan, “Bridging Communities and Nourishing Lives,” very seriously. In fact, she found her community when she started working in the Food Court as a JCCC student.

Em, originally from Thailand, moved to the U.S. with relatives, one of whom was hired on at JCCC. Em then enrolled in the graphic design program. While she enjoyed her studies, she found that her real passion was for her job in the Food Court. She even received the JCCC Dining Services Scholarship, furthering her commitment to her job.

Soon after graduating and beginning work in her field, Em realized she missed her work at JCCC. She returned as the Supervisor of the Food Court, where she has been for over 20 years.

International Student Becomes a Mentor and Supervisor

The Food Court employs many international students. As a former international student herself, Em acts as both a supervisor and a mentor. When she’s not teaching students the ropes of their job, she’s helping them find academic and financial resources and connect with their peers. Many describe the atmosphere in the Food Court as more like a family than a job.

“Em is really good at supporting students and creating a sense of community of her student workers from around the world,” says Suzanne Maheu, Coordinator of International Community Support Services.

Em’s bond with her students extends beyond business hours. She frequently cooks a staff dinner in her home, featuring favorite Thai dishes. She keeps in touch with students after they graduate and encourages them to form bonds with their coworkers.

During the pandemic, Em worked hard to make sure her students were taken care of. She pointed them to assistance on and off campus and made sure to check in with them.

Now, as the campus reopens, Em is thrilled to welcome back her students and continue to provide good customer service.

“The Food Court is the face of JCCC, and I want to make sure that whether you’re a student, a visitor or staff, that you have a positive experience,” Em says. “That way you always want to come back.”

Connections with People and Careers

JCCC connections occur in unique and varied ways. For Em, it began with her job. That job earned her a scholarship, connections and a lifelong career where she can support students like she once was.

Cheryl Craft, Coordinator of Dining Services Production, has worked with Em for years and says her greatest strength is her ability to connect with people from different walks of life.

“She is not only a good supervisor, but a good friend,” says Craft. “She really listens to you. That’s not easy to find."

Check out how JCCC supports International and Immigrant Students.