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The Antelope

Dining hall cashier knows students by name

Lea Burkey makes students’ day when welcoming them to The Graze
Lea+Burkey%2C+cashier+at+The+Graze%2C+has+been+a+cashier+in+the+food+industry+for+19+years.+Photo+by+Shelby+Berglund+%2F+Antelope+Staff
Lea Burkey, cashier at The Graze, has been a cashier in the food industry for 19 years. Photo by Shelby Berglund / Antelope Staff

tisthammers@lopers.unk.edu

Lea Burkey is the highlight of The Graze dining experience for many students. The dining hall cashier has an outgoing personality that is unforgettable to others around her. 

Burkey looks forward to interacting with students each day. 

“I love seeing the students smile,” Burkey said. “ I’m thankful that they’re very gracious, respectful and polite. I really love going to work.”

Burkey grew up in Monello, Philippines. Before becoming a cashier, Burkey was a stay-at-home mom and waitress. She was also a nursing and medication aide at the beginning of her cashier career. As a mother, Burkey liked that her cashier position allowed her to be home with her children in the summer.

Burkey has been a cashier in the food industry for 19 years. She works mornings at The Graze. Along with being a cashier, she prepares coffee, juice and other supplies before students arrive at the cafeteria.

Many students and faculty members are impressed by Burkey’s ability to remember names. 

“I have a good memory,” Burkey said. “But believe me, I tend to forget some students’ names after every semester. I have to relearn some names, just like ‘50 First Dates’. I think it just puts a smile on students’ faces if I know their names.”

Staff members enjoy working alongside Burkey.

“There are so many things that I love about Lea,” said Shelty Webster, marketing manager for UNK Dining. “She has a great attitude about each day and is so bright and bubbly. She is always just so happy.”

Students appreciate Burkey’s effort to get to know them.

“I like how Lea makes an effort to know who people are,” said Lexie Eckhoff, UNK freshman majoring in psychobiology. “She knows me by name and I’ve seen her do that to a lot of other people too.”

Eckhoff went on to talk about how Burkey has made a difference in the lives of others around her.

“Honestly, I think Lea is always such a happy and positive face,” Eckhoff said. “It makes you a little happier to see her even if you’ve had a bad day. She is just so sweet and always makes me feel so welcomed.”

Burkey has set a great example to others around her.

“Lea inspires us all to be better people and look on the brighter side,” Webster said. “She has the ability to talk to anybody and relate to them in some sort of way.”

Burkey has big plans for when she retires. 

She hopes to travel to Spain, read lots of Nora Roberts books, spend time in her vegetable garden and write lots of Haiku poems. Education is very important to Burkey. She would like to go back to school to earn a business degree, specifically in economics or finance. 

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Sydney Tisthammer, Reporter
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