Harper College

Darlett Bernard to receive Excellence in Service Award at MLK Celebration

Darlett Bernard with the Harper HawkFor more than 17 years, Darlett Bernard has been bringing hot food – and a warm smile – to students, employees and guests on Harper’s campus.

As the catering supervisor for Sodexo Campus Services, Darlett is an ever-moving presence on campus, pushing a cart of food to an event in Building W at one moment and leading meal-delivering student workers through the hallways of Building L the next. For her years of hard work and quality of service to Harper, she is the first recipient of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Excellence in Service Award.

“I’m so grateful. I never thought I would be honored for the work that I do, the work I love to do,” Darlett said. “I’m proud of myself. I try my best. I walk people to their events. I want them to be satisfied. And I know they appreciate what I’m doing here.”

Harper’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will present Darlett with this award, which recognizes an employee who excels at service with a personal touch, at the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration, noon-1 p.m. January 31 in the Wojcik Conference Center Amphitheater, 1200 W. Algonquin Road, Palatine. The annual event will include a keynote speaker, songs and dance, followed by a soul food reception. All are welcome.

Although her work keeps her busy, Darlett never hesitates to stop and talk with fellow employees or help a student get to where they need to go. After all, she may know the campus as well as anybody.

“I get to interact with everyone on campus,” she said when discussing her favorite aspects of Harper, where she began as a server in 2006. “People here are welcoming too. When they see me coming, with hot food, they appreciate it. Food brings people together. I like to see the happiness it brings them. That’s why I love catering.”

Darlett Bernard serving foodWhen Darlett learned about her award from Dr. Tamara A. Johnson, vice president of DEI, she was surprised. But it’s unlikely to surprise anyone else at Harper that Darlett is being honored. Reflecting on her years of service to Harper, she shared some advice that has guided her work.

“Be a friendly face and be on time. I’m never late,” Darlett said, smiling. “Be open to changes. If someone wants something a certain way, make it better for them.”

Last Updated: 3/14/24