Meet Brenda Donar: NRHH honoree


Mohammad Tazin photo

Pioneers feel welcomed when they go through Brenda Donar’s lunch line at the Pioneer Crossing. Donar is being honored with the National Residence Hall Honorary award.

During lunch in the Pioneer Crossing at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, students will come across Brenda Donar. Donar’s kindness and sincerity is apparent every day to all students and she is being recognized by the National Residence Hall Honorary for her positive work ethic at the university. NRHH recognizes two people on campus every semester for honorary membership.

Donar has been a Limited Time Employee with the university for five years.  Before she joined the staff at the Crossing she had many different jobs throughout her life such as having a paper route and owning a farm. Her first professional job was being a cosmetologist and she did that for 19 years.

After leaving cosmetology, she pursued a career in nursing thanks to her persistent sister. She joked that she was older than her instructor, adding that she received a 100 percent on her test and instantly had a bunch of “study buddies.”

While Donar was a Certified Nursing Assistant, she did a lot of hospice work and ended up retiring from her position in 2016. Three of her daughters were inspired to follow in her footsteps after they went on a home care visit with her when they were in high school.

Food Service Administrator Dave Ernst said it’s her sense of humor and among other things that makes her a great employee.

“I think it’s how she approaches every customer that makes things interesting,” he said. Ernst believes that she is like the grandmother figure to the school.w

Donar recalled a moment that stood out for her in her time at the Crossing. A student wasn’t looking like her regular self and she took note of that.  Donar took the student to the side and talked to her about what she was going through.  She walked her over to counseling services and found out that the girl was contemplating suicide and changed her mind after speaking to Donar and the counselor.

Ernst went on to say that all three cashiers have the same traits which is why they’re a great team.

“What they do is remarkable,” Ernst said. “And to do it with the accuracy they do, but still have time to interject that personal part of it. All three of them are great.”

For Donar, it’s the students that make the job a real treat. Both her sisters retired at 62, but she doesn’t see herself stopping anytime soon.

“I love coming to work here,” Donar said. “I love being around you kids, it gives me a bright thing to look forward to. I don’t see myself sitting at home all day long.”