Hanging on the walls of Shirley Menhennett's office is a collection of old menus from the Campus Kitchen (CK). Pointing to one menu with a drawing of young couple holding hands while sitting in a CK a booth, Menhennett jokes, "They're not allowed to do that!"
It is, in part, this sense of humor that endears this CK manager to her student employees. From showering an employee with whipped cream to filling a birthday boy's car with balloons, Menhennett's good-natured pranks often leave students smiling.
"It's a blast working with Shirley," says student worker Ian Brooks, "While she's both firm and consistent, she's also able to take a joke -- and make an equally good one in return."
Menhennett managed a McDonald's in Chattanooga until pressure to work on the Sabbath coincided with an opening at Southern.
Coming to Southern 20 years ago, she noticed a dramatic contrast between McDonald's employees and Southern students.
"There is a huge difference in their attitudes of not being afraid to talk about God," she says. "Most of the students come from a Christian background, and their values tend to be higher."
This environment makes it possible for Menhennett to be involved in the spiritual growth of her workers by having worship with them each morning before the CK opens.
Watching the students' spiritual and social growth during their years at Southern is Menhennett's favorite part of her job.
"I really try to understand students and that they come from different backgrounds," she says, "especially since a lot of students are away from home for the first time."
Menhennett's effort to understand students has made her someone students feel comfortable opening up to. "Sometimes they come into my office to talk about problems they don't know how to handle," she says. "I tell them God has a way of working things out -- of turning our problems into blessings."