By Starr Rivers
Along with attentive faculty members, UMHB is known for its student-centered staff. Those who work in buildings such as Bawcom, Mabee, and Mayborn are especially treasured by students. They are not just employees or someone who wipes down tables or takes a Chick-Fil-A order, but they are an integral part of students’ lives. And for them, the students are just as valuable.
Terry Hunt, “the Starbucks lady,” has been a UMHB employee for a decade now and her devotion to the campus and its students has continued to grow.
She is a passionate Crusader Football fan who attends every home game and most away games and sees her job as more than a paycheck.
“I worked at Mayborn for eight years and it was like going home, not going to a job.” She said.
Terry believes her purpose here is to make a connection with the students.
“The kids here are my lifeline,” she said. “My kids live in California, so being here, the kids keep me from being lonely.”
Her love for the students has always been evident, and last spring she learned that the feeling was very mutual.
“January 2nd [of 2015], I was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. I was given six months to a year [to live],” Hunt said.
Because of the effects chemotherapy would have on her body, she was given the choice to continue working or just rest; it was up to her. She decided to keep working. She would work for two weeks, then take a week off after treatments, and then work another two weeks and so on. But the support she received was astounding.
“The students and the staff rallied around me,” she said. “The Mayborn staff started a GoFundMe account and it has helped amazingly. They took up a collection and paid my deductible on my insurance.”
But it did not stop there.
“They began holding special prayer meetings for me. The BSM reached out and I received hundreds of cards and letters from so many people. They are now all on my wall pinned up.”
Terry said continuing to work while sick was extremely hard, and that the cancer was not just getting to her physically but mentally, too.
“There were days I didn’t want to get up. And at home, when I was alone, the cancer would get to me. But when I was here, the kids would keep me going.”
The students became motivation for her to keep going. They would bring cards, letters, flowers, but more importantly, they prayed. Former UMHB president Dr. Jerry G. Bawcom and First Lady Vicky Bawcom have even joined the prayer circle.
“At 8:30 every morning, Dr. Bawcom and Mrs. Bawcom would pray for me,” Hunt said. “Every day.”
After all the love and prayers, things began to change. Hunt began to respond to the chemotherapy. She started with four lumps in her body, with one being the size of a softball. Now, she only has two spots, both extremely reduced in size.
“My doctor couldn’t understand,” Hunt said. “My doctor did not understand how it was all going so well. And I told her, ‘Well, you don’t know where I work.’”
The students and staff could not be happier. Tyler Baker, freshman political science major, who is an avid Starbucks customer sees Hunt often.
“Terry is a really sweet lady.” he said. “She knows everyone’s names and truly brightens their day. I’m glad she’s here.”
UMHB graduate Bethany Pittman, who works with Hunt, has known her for several years and feels like she is a part of the family.
“She is like a mother figure to me. I am just happy for her,” Pittman said.
Senior speech communication major Katie Stringer, who used to work with Hunt, is thrilled that everything is working out.
“I have never received so much joy from just being around someone,” Stringer said. “For God to handpick her is a wonderful miracle that will forever change UMHB as we know it.”
Hunt thanks everyone who prayed and was there for her when she needed it.
“This is all due to the power of prayer and the power of these kids,” she said. “I’m grateful. I knew God led me here for a reason, I just didn’t realize it was to save my life.”