Saying thanks: Georgia Tech students surprise beloved custodian for keeping campus clean

ATLANTA — A group of Georgia Tech students wanted to come up with a special way to thank the workers who help keep their campus and dorms clean during the COVID-19 pandemic, knowing that it’s a very challenging job during this very challenging time.

Computer science major Nathaniel Greve got together with the other residents on his floor in Fitten Hall to brainstorm an idea to thank a Tech staff member for helping to make sure health and safety protocols were being maintained in their building.

“It has meant so much to us as first-years to be able to come to campus,” Greve said. “In this new chapter where health and sanitation have been elevated to a new meaning, many have yet to realize who this has affected the most: our custodians.”

Greve says they quickly realized they would be seeing their custodian, Valerie, every morning and noticed how kind and attentive she was.

“Many of the staff on campus have taken on additional responsibilities to ensure the students at Georgia Tech are protected. We began discussing how we could give a thank you to Valerie for being so personable, caring, and hard-working,” said Neil Jackson, a mechanical engineering major.

Greve and Jackson started putting together a surprise decoration for Valerie’s door. They animated Valerie as a superhero combating a virus.

Above the art they wrote, “A Custodian is not just a Noble Title, it’s a Post-Apocalyptic, Virus Smashin', COVID Bustin', Survival Skill.”

They decorated the custodial supply closet during the night to surprise Valerie the next day. They recorded Valerie’s reaction and posted it to social media.

Valerie started laughing and screaming, “That is wonderful.”

It was a simple surprise and show of appreciation that turned into a very touching moment.

“I began to explain that she had a lot of work to do and that we as students wouldn’t be able to be on campus without her,” Greve said.

Valerie told them no one had ever done anything like that for her before.

The hall has also shared letters of appreciation and other tokens of their appreciation. They’ve also pledged to help keep each other accountable for maintaining their own cleanliness to make Valerie’s job a little bit easier.