Student Dining Manager Arielle Derival ’17 Leads Team of First-Years at Rockefeller

Photo of Arielle Derival

CDC Spotlight on Student Employees

Miami native Arielle Derival ’17 points the swivel spout to the dirty dish in her hand.

Derival, a Posse scholar on an academic scholarship from the College, is the student-dining manager for the Rockefeller and Torrey dining halls. She worked during her shift on a Thursday night alongside her team of first-year students at Rockefeller. Dervial washed dirty dishes before placing them on a rack and directing them into the disinfecting ware washing machine.

Student workers filed in and out of the damp room, past the shelves of Honeycrisp apples, Sunkist oranges, and ripening pineapples, and received their orders from Derival. They worked in union to be out by 8 p.m.

When one worker hesitated in asking lingering students to leave one of the private dining rooms in Rockefeller, Derival left her post by the sink. Her Nike sneakers squeaked on the polished floors as she strode towards the dining hall. She politely requested that the students leave so that the kitchen staff could finish closing the kitchen. As always, she took the initiative and got the job done.

Work in dining services is required of all first-year students on work-study. Derival spent her first year at Mount Holyoke College working in the Abbey-Buckland dining hall. She juggled the typical responsibilities: swiping OneCard I.D.s, scrubbing dishes, and clearing dirty silverware. She was prompt and worked efficiently. She secured additional shifts at Prospect in order to earn more money.

Derival’s student dining managers at Abby-Buckland noticed her persistence and work ethic. They were impressed and recommended her to Richard Rigali, the dining services student employment manager. And so Derival was promoted to dining hall manager after her first-year.

An Africana and Spanish double major with a Law, Public Policy and Human Rights nexus minor, Derival seeks to incorporate her passion for service in every aspect of her undergraduate experience. She saw her position as a student-dining manager as a means to exemplify to other first-year workers that they can also achieve a similar position. “I’m able to show them that they can be in this same position as well,” she said.

Other than exemplifying opportunities in the dining hall to first-year students, Derival develops skills that are key to any leadership role. She mastered how to take initiative and better communicate. She illustrates that a genuine leader does more than dictate commands—they take an active role and work alongside others.

Fostering a Childhood Passion for Service

Derival’s family exemplified and fostered a life of service. Derival said that her grandmother was a role model for selflessly helping others. “It’s good to never need anything in return, but to know that what you’re doing is helping others,” she said. Derival pursued her passion for service at a young age and saw the legal field as a gateway to helping and defending others’ rights. The Miami-Dade County Teen Court appointed Derival to their youth commission in the ninth grade. She later opened a Haitian market in Little Haiti and, in doing so, restored the nucleus of a minority community.

Derival reflected that her time at Mount Holyoke changed her intended specialization in law. At first, Derival thought of pursuing criminal law. However, Derival’s Haitian immigrant family and organizations on campus inspired her to pursue immigration law. She said that participating in an array of activist organizations, especially the Undocumented Immigration Alliance, molded her vision for the future.

Work in the Dining Halls: From First-Year to Now

Derival welcomed her new responsibilities as a manager. She arrives early on campus a week before commencement to get the dining halls ready for the new academic year. She first creates work shift schedules, then waits to meet with students who pick their shifts, establish expectations, and ensure that students commit to their chosen shifts. If students fail to attend to their shift, Derival rushes to find a substitute or, as a last resort, goes to work as a replacement.

One benefit to her job as a student dining manager is the higher pay rate. “Finance is something that is very important to me,” she said. She tries to avoid any financial strain on her family. In addition to her post at Rockefeller and at Torrey, Derival works at the Rooke Theatre and as a Community-Based Learning fellow.

Derival admitted that the student dining hall manager position came with a few challenges. She explained that every dining hall was different. She said, “Every dining hall puts their pots and plates in different places. That was something I had to re-learn. But other than that, it was just picking it up,” Derival snapped her fingers, “just like that.” Derival transitioned to her new dining hall without any issues. She said, “It’s one of those jobs that as long as you get the training for it, you’re good to go.” 

Chef Brad Sherwood first met Arielle during the fall semester. He noted that she was “pretty no-nonsense of what she had to do.” He appreciated how Derival was always on time and never missed a shift. Culinary assistant Kathryn Locke added that the dining staff heavily relies on student workers. If students constantly forget about certain details, such as where to return a stack of plates, it adds more pressure on the dining staff. They then needed to complete their own responsibilities while also keeping a watchful eye on the student employees.

She said that Derival met the staff’s expectations. “She knows what she’s doing. We don’t have to watch her,” Locke said. Derival approached her tasks with ease and efficiency. She worked with the student workers and dining staff to complete the tasks in a timely fashion.

First-Year Staff Learn About Work Environment Preferences

Derival worked with a variety of first-year students this year. Pearl Schleinig ’19 who worked at Torrey this year, stood out as one of the students who had a knack for working in the dining halls. A native of small town Sharon, MA, Schleinig worked in a farm store before coming to college. She prepped food and thought that working in the kitchen would entail similar responsibilities. She soon realized that kitchen work involved assisting the dining staff around the kitchen rather than prepping food. She was not fazed. “I find it really fun. I like busy work,” said Schleinig.

Derival is now training Schleinig to be a student-dining manager for the upcoming academic year. Schleinig noticed that the job helped her become a better leader. She said about giving directions, “Sometimes it’s important to be straightforward and be a little bit feared in the beginning. I think the way that I communicate is evolving to be a little bit stronger.”

Other first-year students realized that work in dining services was not the best fit for them. Posse scholar Tiffany Walker ’19 is another Miami native. She said that working her first year in the dining hall taught her a few lessons. First, she learned how to better manager her time. As a student worker at Rockefeller, Walker journeyed from her dormitory MacGregor across campus to work every Sunday dinner shift. She was tired by the time that she returned and preferred to relax rather than work. She said, “A lot of me wants to procrastinate—just put off my work.” She realized that she preferred to work in a slower pace and calm environment. She hopes to work at the Kendall Sports & Dance Complex or the Williston Memorial Library next year.

In working with a student dining manager, first-year students have the opportunity to nurture bonds with upper-class peers. Derival exemplified the bond between first-years and juniors when she reached out to Walker for a survey on what first-years knew about study abroad. “I would consider the dynamic as a friendship. I know if I needed something I could reach out to her,” said Walker.

The Ideal Student Dining Manager

Derival suggested that first-year student workers interested in pursuing a student-dining manager position should speak up. An ideal candidate, she noted, is a leader. “You shouldn’t be interested in the role if you’re not going to take initiative, you’re not going to be motivated, if you’re not going to work hard, if you’re not a going to be a team player,” Derival said, “If you are all of those things, then I definitively think that you should look into being a student-dining manager.”

Derival was the last to clock out on that Thursday evening. She passed by the white chocolate craisin bars and chocolate chip muffins placed out for Milk and Cookies. The smell of butter sliced away the sodden air from the dish room. She saved the payroll bubble sheets in a single folder and threw on her jacket. She finished her work for the day.