Like graduating seniors, Edith Hahn, who brews Starbucks coffee in Brower Student Center, will be leaving the College to begin a new phase of her life in May. At 89-years-old, she is retiring, but not before joining the students she loves at Commencement.
To honor her 15 years of service-with-a-smile at the College, the Class of 2005 will present Edith with the Sesquicentennial Distinguished Service Award.
“I don’t think I’m worth all this,” Edith said. Yet the students and faculty who frequent her coffee bar, Edith’s Place, would beg to differ.
Edith will even don her own petite cap and gown when she accepts her award. However, just last week, a health scare left her wearing a hospital gown, after she was rushed to the Helene Fuld Medical Center when her heart started racing on Tuesday.
“The doctors said I’m lucky I didn’t have a heart attack,” Edith said.
In the ambulance, the paramedics told her she was “over 200,” she said, referring to her systolic blood pressure, which should normally be less than 120.
After she was released from the hospital on Thursday, Edith recovered in her niece’s home. She said she was feeling better but still weak.
Over the telephone, she spoke slowly but smoothly, her affectionate voice rising gently as she emphasized how much she missed the students.
“I love the students, I really do,” Edith said. “They’re so nice to me.”
The appreciation is mutual. Michelle Dunlap, sophomore history major, said Hahn always makes sure to greet her customers, even if she’s busy.
“She takes the time to talk to everyone,” Dunlap said. “You could tell that she really liked the fact that her job let her interact with people.”
The Sesquicentennial Distinguished Service Award recognizes Edith for consistent excellence, exceptional performance, dedication, compassion and service to the College community.
According to Janis Blayne Paul, major events director and chief Sesquicentennial officer, the choice was a natural one.
“She’s very sincere and compassionate and doesn’t put on airs,” Blayne Paul said.
Seeing Edith accept the award will be meaningful for students, she said. After all, Edith’s espressos perked them up for all the early morning classes that led to their diplomas.
Considering her sweet personality, it is fitting that Edith previously worked at a children’s clothing store and as a candy maker. She was once self-employed at Russell Hahn Confections, the Trenton candy store she and her late husband owned. Fifteen years ago, she joined the College community.
In her retirement, Edith said she will not have a problem keeping busy.
“I’m always busy doing something,” she said. “I take care of my pets, a dog and cat, and I love my home. I like to clean and fix it up all the time.”
Shopping, walking and visiting relatives are among Edith’s other interests.
Edith’s longevity may run in the family – she had an uncle who lived to be 104 and her sister is 94 -but it is also the result of her healthy lifestyle. Before she was prescribed a pill for her heart last week, she said she never took any medication. She credits that to eating the right foods and staying away from drinking and smoking.
“I just say lead a good, straight life,” she said. “That’s all I can tell you.”