Denise Terry, known to most Missouri Southern students as “Momma D,” has been with the university for the last six years. She works the cashier in the front of the cafeteria and has become a second mom and a mentor to students who live on campus.
Since taking the job with the university, “Momma D” has become a favorite with the students at the university, living up to the nickname given to her.
“Momma D” makes it important for her to know the students who come into the cafeteria. She gets to know the names of almost every student and will ask questions to learn about them.
“She just always has a big smile on her face when you walk into the cafeteria. She always says, “good morning,” and makes it important to get to know you,” said sophomore Bryan Candrl.
“Momma D” does not do much other than be a person for the students to talk to if needed.
“She doesn’t do anything special. She just cares. She makes you feel important by knowing everything about you and giving you compliments,” said junior Wynter Nekola.
The students at Southern come from all around the world. If a student is feeling the stress of college and being away from home, “Momma D” is there to offer sweet words of advice to helps students get through everyday life.
“If you need to talk about anything, Momma D is always there to listen and makes you feel better. She is easy to talk to and takes on a motherly role because a lot of students don’t get to see their own mother as much as they would like to,” said Nekola.
Terry has become such an influence on college students at the university that she won the MIAA SAAC Mentor of the Year last year.
Though “Momma D” was taken by surprise that she had won, everyone else could not have agreed more with her award.
When it was announced that Terry had won this award, Southern athletic director, Jared Bruggeman, took to Twitter to express his thoughts of “Momma D” by saying, “She optimizes making a difference in kids’ lives one step at a time.”
“The fact that she always has a positive attitude and can cheer you up with just a smile, says a lot about the person she is,” said Nekola.
“Momma D” is the first and last person that students see when in the cafeteria. She always makes it important to leave a lasting impression with her kind words.