Meet the staff: Donna Ponschock

Elizabeth Vaughan

We see her every day as we wait in line to enter Andrew Commons. She greets every student with a radiant smile, hoping for a grin or two in return. Meet Donna Ponschock, checker for Bon Appétit.

She is one of many part-time workers at Lawrence University who helps with catering, greeting students and fulfilling other duties in Andrew Commons, the café and other campus venues where Bon Appétit serves. Ponschock has worked at Lawrence University for four years, and has worked both at Downer and in the Warch Campus Center.

Ponschock previously worked as a waitress for banquets and weddings at the Darboy Club. She also has had experience with food service in the public school system. However, she felt dissatisfied with breakfast service at the grade school level, and when she saw an advertisement to work at Lawrence, she realized she preferred interaction with college-aged students.

In addition, Ponschock prefers that Bon Appétit cooks meals with real ingredients from scratch, rather than with processed cafeteria food like most school cafeterias. 

A typical day for Ponschock involves arriving in the cafeteria 15 minutes before every meal is ready. After signing onto the register, she is fresh-faced and ready to talk to arriving students.

After all the students depart, Ponschock cleans the cafeteria for about an hour. Occasionally, she will take over other jobs, such as shift leader. Sometimes during the summer, Ponschock will cater for weddings at Warch.

Said Ponschock, “I would have never imagined having a wedding reception in the Warch Campus Center, but the sunsets, lighting and view in the summer are so beautiful here.”

“My favorite part of the job is talking and interacting with all the students, and finding out their amazing talents,” she continued. “I always have envied and admired people who can sing. A few weeks ago, I received a singing valentine from senior J.J. Anshus and other members of [Sinfonia.] It made my week!”

Ponschock’s genuine friendliness and laid-back personality lead to many students’ wanting to know her more.

“Donna is always ready to welcome people and with a smile on her face. It’s cool getting to know her in and outside of the university,” said Anshus. “It’s important to get to know the people who are often taken for granted at Lawrence. I’m really grateful about the fact that she is here because it is admirable that she can make her job so effortlessly fun.”

In addition to working four hours a day, Ponschock works full time at Zebra technologies, running a die cutter machine that produces thermal bar code label and receipt printers.

A native of Appleton, Ponschock attended Xavier High School. She has many family members who live in the area and enjoys visiting them often. Before her current job, Ponschock worked as a shift leader at Presto Products, a local company in Appleton that produces sealable plastic bags.

Ponschock enjoys the flexible hours and free summers that a job at Bon Appéit provides. She takes advantage of this free time by golfing with her friends as often as she can.

“Over spring break, my girlfriends and I are going down to Illinois to golf, because the weather here is too bad to golf.” She enjoys going out to eat, and one of her favorite restaurants in the area is Pullman’s.

“My goal when I work is to smile and make students smile in return,” Ponschock said. And it works; her smiles are contagious.