Lead custodian Symetha Parker and custodian Tammy Bright finished with their cleaning of a Legacy Hall lounge. Dec. 11 (Khirstia Sheffield)
Lead custodian Symetha Parker and custodian Tammy Bright finished with their cleaning of a Legacy Hall lounge. Dec. 11

Khirstia Sheffield

Our Silent Superheroes

December 28, 2020

As the virus swept across the nation nearly nine months ago, leaving more than 300,000 Americans alone as they spent their last waking moments without physical connection from their families, our nation has suffered, with unemployment rates reaching record numbers, small businesses being forced to board up their doors due to a lack of relief from the hard-hitting pandemic and a hunger crisis that has invaded family structures. However, as many Americans continue to steer clear of the virus that has taken so many lives and broken up happy homes, some Americans have put themselves in harm’s way and become the new heroes behind the mask.

The people aforementioned are custodians: our Silent Superheroes. Their fearlessness and willingness to face the virus head-on has allowed many universities and schools across the nation to continue in-person learning, a dynamic that cannot be eradicated with the advancement of technology.

“We’re the governors of the school, the students depend on us because without us the school wouldn’t function. We are the housekeepers and we are the love of the university,” Symetha Parker, lead custodian said.

Eight months ago working as a barista at Starbucks, Parker watched from a distance as custodians of MSU danced around full of joy, and from that very moment, she knew she desired to work with a warm-hearted group of people who placed an emphasis on love and joy in spite of the challenges they may face.

“I wouldn’t be here without them,” Parker said. “They have showed me so much love, and they take so much pride in what they do. I’m thankful and this group of people has helped me get through the tough times we are facing now. MSU has a real team here, a caring and loving team that the students can count on and that brings us all joy.”

Although being a custodian has never been an easy job, the pandemic has altered all cleaning protocols, forcing custodians to do four times as much cleaning than they are accustomed to. On top of the normal cleaning assignments, custodians are required to clean touch point areas and spray E-23 two times in the morning and afternoon across campus. Parker describes the demand of having so many buildings to clean as even more daunting as the secure masks limit her ability to breathe for eight consecutive hours.

“There is a lot to clean, and sometimes I feel like I can’t cover it all, but when we all come together we get the job done,” Parker said. “We just try to stay positive, and we overcome because there is nothing too hard for any of us. Sometimes different is good and there are some good things that have come from this experience.”

Their work never ends; even an empty campus won’t stop their sacrifice, and although, they try to face their challenges with a joyous attitude, they still are putting their lives on the line for the sake of our safety.

“In our department the most challenging aspect is going into COVID rooms that are set aside for students that have to go into isolation,” Parker said. “You don’t know what students are sick or ill. In those moments of knowing that you’re going in before a COVID patient or coming in behind a COVID patient, it can be scary for us.”

In spite of the challenges they continue to face, a thank you goes a long way.

“My favorite part of being a custodian has been the students when they say thank you,” Parker said. “They are so thankful, and to know somebody is there and they care and love, it’s breathtaking. You are recognized, and that’s the joy. The recognition and the appreciation is priceless, and it outweighs the money.”

Parker said she believes that the work she has done here at MSU won’t last forever. She doesn’t want to limit herself to one thing. She wants to experience different environments and spread the love she has gained from her peers across the metroplex, because she won’t stop here.

“I’m just passing through; this is not my home,” Parker said. “I’m on a mission and I think I was sent through this department just to enhance the love. It’s been my mission to spread the love of God and be where he wants me to be.”

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