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Custodian Kim Carrier receives Difference Maker Award

Barry McNamara
Kim Carrier (left) receives the College's inaugural Difference Maker Award from Dean of Students Laura Hutchinson.
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MONMOUTH, Ill. – Monmouth College custodian Kim Carrier sees her job as more than cleaning one of the College’s oldest classroom buildings. She’s also responsible for contributing to an environment that maintains a dynamic learning environment for students.

Carrier, who’s been a custodian at Monmouth for 23 years, received the inaugural Difference Maker Award at this year’s Highlander Leadership Awards for the exemplary work she does to maintain the College’s McMichael Academic Hall. She’s also responsible for maintaining Wells Theater, the Weeks House, and the Alpha Xi and Pi Beta Phi houses.

The Difference Maker Award recognizes a Monmouth faculty or staff member who makes a difference in the lives of those they come into contact with on campus.

A 110-year-old building, “McMike” is home to the College’s departments of art and modern languages, literatures, and cultures.

“The art kids are in here night and day,” said Carrier. “Some days I walk in, and it’s just chaos. There’s clay everywhere, cardboard everywhere, paint everywhere. They clean up the best they can, but they’re kids. You just grab a mop and a bucket and away you go.”

And she does it all with a personality that makes a difference to those who teach and study in the building.

“(Kim) takes great pride in this building,” said art professor Stacy Lotz. “We are in one of the oldest buildings on campus and Kim tries to keep it as if it were a brand new building. She works really hard at that. She has become a really good friend and mentor to our students.”

Added student Frankie Navarro ’19: “As soon as you walk in, if she sees you, she’ll call you out and say ‘Hey, how are you doing?’”

Carrier may have been the one cited for making a difference, but she said the entire campus community plays a part.

“The people here make a difference, in my opinion,” she said. “If the people here and the students weren’t the way they are, it wouldn’t be as fun a place to work. It’s more than a job to me here. … I’m blessed to be in this environment, being around students. It keeps me young.”

Carrier, who worked for 17 years in retail before coming to the College, said the award also shines a spotlight on the efforts put forth on a daily basis by her physical plant colleagues.

“I think the award makes our department shine, in a way,” she said. “We’re just maintenance people, but we do a lot for the College. I’ve always felt that our jobs matter.”

Art professor Janis Wunderlich nominated Carrier for the award because of the impact she said that Carrier has on the Art Department.

“When I saw that there was such a thing as a Difference Maker Award at Monmouth College, I immediately thought of our custodian, Kim,” said Wunderlich. “As a ceramics artist and as a ceramics professor, my students and I make a giant mess in this building. She takes such good care of us. She is so kind in her attitude toward this (ceramics) room and toward this building. She cares for McMichael in such a loving way and she makes us all feel really special.”

Carrier knew she’d been nominated but hadn’t dreamed of actually receiving the award until she saw Wunderlich make her way to the podium.

“When I saw Janis get up to speak, I thought, ‘Oh, boy,’” said Carrier. “Then they showed a video (about Carrier) on the screen, and I thought that was very cool. I loved it. It made me feel good. I cried.”

Regarding a philosophy that Carrier brings to work every day, she cited her marriage to her husband, Terry.

“My husband and I have been married 39 years,” said Carrier. “We go to bed laughing, and we wake up laughing. Being crabby and grouchy doesn’t do any good anyway.”