The line wraps around the store, crowding the coffee stand and bumping boxes of sushi, but no one dares to miss his morning muffin and her afternoon java.
Some say it’s something more than the food and drinks that keep people coming to What’s Bruin’? There is something special about the people
Yashica Benford and Gerri Johnson, known as Miss Shica and Miss G, of What’s Bruin’?and sometimes Corner Court, greet everyone with a smile and are never too busy to ask how a student’s day is going.
The two ladies have thousands of kids- hungry, tired and sleep-deprived college kids to be exact.
They know all their children by name: baby, sweetie and sugar.
Behind the counter, Miss G doesn’t stand too tall nor is she intimidating, but you get the feeling you better be on your best behavior.
You say “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am” and when she asks how you’re doing, you tell the truth because Miss G is your momma away from home.
She is a Nashville native and has worked at Belmont for 12 years, and for the last six years she has been at What’s Bruin?
It’s the sudents that keep her job enjoyable, Miss G said. The students have manners and most are friendly, she said.
“And the ones that aren‘t friendly; I make them friendly,” she jokes.
For most students, being at Belmont means being away from home without someone looking after them.
Miss G fills that space for so many.
“When ya’ll come in here, all of ya’ll are kids to me.”
When students go to What’s Bruin’? they can have 1,000 things going on, but when Miss G is dancing along to her gospel music and asks which smoothie they want, all those things disappear because according to Miss G we are “too blessed to be stressed.”
She has two children of her own: two girls, 32 and 29. Because she has kids, she knows and understands what students are dealing with.
Miss G has a motherly vibe that lets the students know she cares.
If she makes a smoothie and it comes out too runny or there is extra, she brings it over to the students working or studying in the Beaman.
It’s one of the little things that make Miss G who she is to the students.
“Girl, honey, it‘s just Jesus” she said that keeps her so positive.
“I don‘t feel good sometimes, but I don‘t bring that mess to work with me,” Miss G said. “Here it‘s just my Jesus and my gospel.”
One of her favorite memories is when students came to film What’s Bruin’? for Fall Follies. The best part: they used her gospel music.
She started playing her music and she wondered what the kids would think. But they seem to like it, so she left it, she said.
As if one mamma isn’t enough, Miss Shica also now works at the shop in the Beaman.
Miss Shica has only been at What’s Bruin’? for about a month, but has worked at Belmont for almost five years.
“As soon as I walk on campus, there’s always a student,” Miss Shica said.
There’s someone always there and all it takes is a “good morning!” “and that brightens my day,” she said.
“I can feel it…it’s a Godly atmosphere, baby,” Miss Shica said of What’s Bruin’?. She credits this to Miss G, her gospel music and her motivation to treat people with kindness. She has never seen Miss G say a mean word to anyone, she said.
When she is not at Belmont, Miss Shica is home raising her two nieces, 8 and 10 or working at Bolton’s Spicy Chicken and Fish on Main Street in East Nashville.
Even though these two ladies go home to things more personal to them than their job at Belmont, they have a deep presence on campus and leave an impact on students.
When Belmont basketball player JJ Mann was asked to pick a faculty or staff member to escort him on the basketball court to recognize an appreciated person on campus, Mann asked Miss Shica.
“She came all dressed and dazzled up,” he said. She was very excited.
She was nervous and even had to ask off work to go, Miss Shica said.
“I said ‘JJ, if it’s for you, I’ll do it,’” said Miss Shica.
Mann usually goes to Corner Court for a sandwich, but now he can stop by What’s Bruin’? for breakfast to see Miss Shica.
He may leave with a Mean Machine smoothie, but he came for something more.
“She is a loving, caring, mother-figure to all students,” said Mann of Miss Shica.
Students love her because she genuinely cares what is going on in their lives. She will remember if you told her you were sick or had a test because she’ll ask about it the next day, Mann said.
Belmont sophomore Taylor Radick works with the two ladies at Corner Court and What’s Bruin’?.
Miss G and Miss Shica are more than just Sodexo workers to Radick. They form relationships with the students, she said.
“I love when she puts on her gospel music,” Radick said of Miss G. “She gets into these praise moments and just jams to it.”
The students don’t mind it at all. In fact they love it, said Radick.
“No one seems to care. It just brightens everyone’s day, even if there’s a line, she’s just going and singing. It’s awesome.”
“Shica taught me the importance of just talking to people because, to her it‘s more than a job,” said Radick. “She‘s not just making coffee and filling shelves.”