The Cavalier Daily
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Graduating students invited to have breakfast with Ms. Kathy one last time

The tradition was started in 2016 as a way to encourage safe alcohol consumption

Graduating students will have the opportunity to say goodbye to legendary Newcomb Hall staff member Ms. Kathy at a free breakfast event hosted at 1515 before the graduation ceremonies on May 20 and 21. Breakfast — which starts at 6 a.m. —  will include free breakfast burritos and coffee, as well as one last hug and some words of encouragement from Ms. Kathy.

Student leaders from the University’s Advisory Committee on Alcohol and Substance Abuse started the graduate breakfast with Ms. Kathy tradition in 2016. The students recognized that walking the Lawn during Final Exercises is a celebratory event which sometimes includes alcohol. By providing breakfast, their goal is to reduce the number of students who are drinking on an empty stomach. 

Virginia E. Carter, director of communications for Student Affairs, said Ms. Kathy is the real star of the early morning breakfast and that she will be there to help students celebrate their time at the University. 

“Both Saturday and Sunday mornings, before lining up for their ceremony, graduates can swing by 1515, get fortified with a meat or vegetarian burrito, a cup of coffee and a farewell hug from Ms. Kathy,” Carter said in an email statement to the Cavalier Daily

Kathy McGruder, affectionately known by students as Ms. Kathy, has been a staple of the Newcomb Dining Hall for more than 20 years. She is known for her humor and affection for students and being a positive influence through her energy and words of encouragement. 

Students who frequent Newcomb Hall for breakfast share fond memories of Ms. Kathy, who always goes above and beyond to compliment and motivate them. Referring to students as her “babies” or other terms of endearment, she also takes the time to learn the names of many regulars. 

When the pandemic caused University dining contractor Aramark to make abrupt layoffs in Spring 2020, Ms. Kathy was furloughed. In response, students and alumni rallied to raise funds for her and other affected staff.

Last May, the University dedicated a portrait to Ms. Kathy on the third floor of Newcomb Hall. Ms. Kathy was also recently the subject of a profile in The Cavalier Daily.

As the graduating students bid farewell to their beloved Ms. Kathy, they carry with them the years of memories of her infectious positivity and unwavering support. The graduate breakfast with Ms. Kathy is a tradition that provides students with a wholesome start to their celebratory day. 

The breakfast is fully funded by the University Parents Program. 

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