Skip to main content
Header Photo for Story

I Am Vanderbilt: Antoinette Hicks

by Mar. 4, 2019, 8:16 AM

Video by Zack Eagles

I Am Vanderbilt celebrates the people of Vanderbilt and the unique talents and contributions they bring to their work at the university each day.

By the time Rand Dining Center opens for breakfast each weekday, Antoinette Hicks has already been on the job for a couple of hours.

Hicks, the morning supervisor at Rand, comes in as early as 5 a.m. to meet delivery drivers, open the building and prepare the cash registers as Campus Dining staff arrive for the day.

Vanderbilt’s dining halls—ranked seventh-best in the country by College Magazine—are the heartbeat of campus, and Rand is among the busiest. But, Hicks says, Campus Dining provides sustenance in more ways than one.

“I think food is important—that makes you happy—but it’s also about service,” she said. “That’s the most important role to me and to my team.

“I like it when the service areas are clean. I like it when our attire is appropriate,” she said. “There are a lot of things that make the food taste better—it’s how you’re treated.”

“I like it when the service areas are clean. I like it when our attire is appropriate,” she said. “There are a lot of things that make the food taste better—it’s how you’re treated.”

In her 42 years on campus, Hicks has been a cashier, supervisor and assistant manager in a variety of Campus Dining locations, including the Divinity School, the Commons Dining Center, Vanderbilt Catering and now Rand. She said she’s seen Vanderbilt evolve into a more open and cohesive community during her time on campus. And she’s watched Campus Dining expand in significant ways.

“I like that you can get something to eat on this campus 24/7. They’ve got markets and dining areas where you can sit and eat till late at night. There are cafés in the libraries now,” she said. “I think that’s really, really vital for students—that they feel comfortable.”

Hicks believes in using a personal touch in her interactions with colleagues, students and faculty—making sure they feel seen, heard and respected. That, and her commitment to service excellence, garnered her the Commodore Award—Vanderbilt’s highest staff honor—at the annual Service Award Ceremony in February. The Commodore Award recognizes staff members who have made significant contributions to the university’s pursuit of excellence in education, research and community service each year.

Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and Commodore Award winner Antoinette Hicks
Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos presented Antoinette Hicks with the Commodore Award during the Service Award Ceremony on Feb. 20. (Susan Urmy/Vanderbilt)

Hicks said she was overwhelmed with joy to receive the award, “and gratified that people appreciated and noticed what I feel in my heart.”

“I want my legacy to be that people truly know that I’m a Commodore from the heart,” she said.

More I AM VANDERBILT Stories

VIEW MORE EVENTS >