The Maneater

Sandy from Plaza to retire in early November

MU students will miss Sandy Cunningham’s welcoming smile at Plaza 900.

Portrait of Sandy Cunningham.

Anyone who has gone to Plaza 900 knows who Sandy Cunningham, or simply “Sandy from Plaza,” is. And chances are she knows who you are, too.

Recognized by her uniform, her brooch of the day on the right side of her chest and, of course, her radiant smile, Cunningham is a memorable character to all that walk through the doors of Plaza.

Cunningham will be retiring after 12 years at Plaza on Nov. 3.

“She’s always really happy to see us any time of the day,” MU freshman Nikki Greco said. “She puts you in a good mood right off the bat.”

Cunningham said her favorite part of working at Plaza, and the part she’ll miss the most, is the students.

“There’s just something about seeing people come from high school, grow up and go in their directions,” Cunningham said. “It’s kind of like watching my kids when they were growing up, and as they went on.”

The students are actually the whole reason that she started working at Plaza. She wanted to play a role in helping them adapt to college life.

“I started working here because I had three kids that when they went to college, I had hoped that there had been someone there that made them feel at home when they were there,” Cunningham said.

In honor of her retirement, there is a decorative table set up for Cunningham inside the doors of Plaza, complete with a nearly four-foot cardboard cutout of Cunningham.

This table also has a memory book open to students, staff and friends of Plaza to write their thoughts for Cunningham. This book is nearly half full of messages ranging from long, thoughtful memories to, as one student wrote, “I LOVE YOU!”

While Cunningham sports a flip phone and isn’t a part of the digital world, she is loved on social media as well.

In 2013, MU students created a “Sandy of Plaza 900” Facebook page. This page has nearly 3,000 likes.

Campus Dining Services has also tweeted about her in the past.

With over 35 replies, 360 retweets and 600 likes, it seems as though people do.

Last year, MU students wanted to do something special for Cunningham for Christmas, so they created a GoFundMe page for her that raised over $5,000. Instead of accepting the money, Cunningham donated it to MizzouThon, an MU philanthropy that raises money for the MU Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

“Every time I walk in she says something nice to me and greets me warmly,” MU freshman Suzanne Brown said. “She tells me to have a good day and stuff. She’s really sociable and lively, so it’s really nice.”

Cunningham plans to spend her retirement with her family, particularly babysitting her grandchildren. She also plans to visit an ocean because she’s never been to one before.

But, most importantly, she plans to let life take her where it wants her to go.

“Life is a journey, anyways,” Cunningham said. “You never know where it’s going to take you.”

Over the last 12 years, Cunningham has enjoyed being a part of the MU family.

“I’ve been honored and privileged to be a part of all of the kids’ lives,” she said.

Edited by Sarah Hallam | shallam@themaneater.com

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