Assistant to the Director of the Warch Campus Center, Jodie Bonikowske.
Photo by Hannah Burgess.
This column is devoted to highlighting staff members that play a huge role in the everyday experiences of the Lawrence community.
While students find refuge from the cold in Warch Campus Center, many may not be aware of the woman who maintains the facility. This week’s Hidden Figure is cherry and full of good humor. Students may be more familiar with her one-year-old dachshund, Ollie, who often makes campus appearances around Reading Period and exam time. In Warch Campus Center Room 306, the small office behind the Information Desk and ID Office where students can purchase new IDs, Jodie Bonikowske is there to help.
As the Assistant to the Director of the Warch Campus Center, Bonikowske is in charge of scheduling events in the building so that every room is filled, creating room layouts for tech crew, managing meal plans and Viking Gold, scheduling Lawrence University fleet vehicles and sorting issues with student and faculty IDs. Bonikowske enjoys the variety of responsibilities as well as briefly meeting students, faculty and staff. Bonikowske is interested in finding out where people are from and what brought them to Lawrence. She is approaching fifteen years at Lawrence even though to her, “it feels more like five!” she laughed. In addition, she enjoys working with her coworkers in the Warch Campus Center and across campus.
Prior to working at Lawrence, Bonikowske has worked as a customer service specialist for nine years at a cardboard company before turning her attention towards raising her family. She continued to work in various part-time customer service positions at the YMCA and Thrivent before starting at Lawrence.
Although Bonikowske is not working in customer service at Lawrence, the skills she learned are very critical. Her top priority are the students and making sure they are having a good experience at Lawrence. Bonikowske first started working in the ID Office, which was part of the dining service at Jason Downer Commons, now Alice G. Chapman Hall. She worked evenings which allowed her to be with her then young children during the day. When Lawrence welcomed Bon Appetit to take over the dining operations, she remained a university employee and began working for Campus Center Director Greg Griffin when the campus center opened. Bonikowske has enjoyed every change that came with her career.
Bonikowske appreciates Bon Appetit’s food services. “I have two kids in college and we compare notes about how their colleges do things,” she explained. “They’d jump at the chance to have Bon Appetit as their food provider.” Students might get sick of eating Bon Appetit day in and day out, but food from other colleges are not as good.
‘The Lawrence Difference’ according to Bonikowske is the opportunity for students to travel to Björklunden, spring break trips, volunteer opportunities and competitions. “It’s the small things that even I take for granted that add up to make a big difference,” she added.
Bonikowske’s hobbies and interests revolve around sports. Her three children play sports and are never off-season. “I have served many years on our local youth sports boards for both baseball and basketball which was quite time consuming, but I really loved every minute of it,” Bonikowske commented.
Although her family does not travel often, they always make it a point to spend quality time with each other. “Besides my family, I believe it’s critical to laugh and enjoy life. I try to find the humor in things that otherwise drive me crazy. I am open to laughing at myself and my shortcomings, and that provides me with a lot of material!”
Bonikowske’s husband, Scott, inspires her mainly because he is a hard worker and laughs along with her. “I am in awe that he has put up with me for twenty-seven years, which is not always a walk in the park,” she joked. “I tell him daily that he’s darn lucky to have me, but the truth is, I’m the lucky one.”
Bonikowske loves her husband for his quiet sense of humor. “He does not joke around a lot, but when he does, it is pretty good. I am boisterous and a joker. He just lets me go.”
Bonikowske is a Hidden Figure because she laughs her way through life. She is a reminder that even when things pile up or become difficult, there is always humor to be found.