By: Samantha Bergum
When alumni typically think about returning to their alma mater, they may look forward to seeing their favorite faculty. This still rings to be true at Crown, but two people are known to be some of the favorites on campus, these two are known as Mel and Sue. They have worked as a barista duo for over 15 years. They are a treasure to Crown, their journey started at Crown far before – which many may not know.
St. Paul Bible College Beginnings
Sue (Kuntscher) Manske, grew up in a different denomination of church in Minnesota. She knew who God was, but did not have a relationship with him. It wasn’t until her senior year of high school she asked Jesus into her life. After graduation, she followed her two older brothers to the University of Minnesota. As she was there, one of her brothers decided to transfer to St. Paul Bible College (SPBC), and she felt the calling on her life to grow deeper with the Lord and found herself transferring to SPBC as well. It was there that she met her husband, Dave Manske, and they committed their lives to missions as International Studies majors. After graduating from SPBC, they moved to Brazil serving as missionaries there for 15 years.
Melody (McFadden) Bouchard grew up as an Alliance pastors’ kid in Montana, both of her parents attended St. Paul Bible College and were passionate about what the school stood for. As she grew up, her parents encouraged each of their children to attend at least a year of bible college. She went for two years to get her Associate of Arts degree and met her husband, Don, there as well. After graduating they moved back to Montana where Don taught high school English and Mel raised their children as a stay-at-home mom. As the kids grew up, she and Don had the same hope for their children – that they would want to go to Crown for at least a year of bible college. As they graduated, they indeed found themselves happily sending their children off to Crown. When their first daughter went, they began asking Don if he would become a professor, and by their second daughter attending Crown, the Bouchards had decided to make the move back to Minnesota for Don to become a professor.
Following the Lord’s Footsteps
At the time 19 years ago, the coffee shop had just gotten renovated, Crown had hired someone to run it and had quit on the first day. In a pinch, they reached out to the faculty and staff asking if they knew anyone for the job. With all of the Bouchard children in school, Don asked Mel. Reluctantly, she came in and was hired on the spot.
As she ran the coffee shop solo for four years, she had student help but struggled as the campus grew and it was a busy job for one. It was then that one of Sue’s daughters was a student at Crown and worked in the coffee shop for Mel, asked Sue one day, “Mom you should work in the coffee shop!”
When Mel and Sue attended Crown, Sue was a senior and Mel was a freshman. Mel knew of Sue and was excited at the opportunity to hire another full-time barista. When Sue came in for an interview, she was also hired on the spot. The rest is history.
A Heart for Students
As Mel and Sue have now worked together for 15 years, they reflect on how God had placed them together in the coffee shop and feel so grateful. They truly feel like God has placed them here with a purpose to love students.
“We try to listen to the Holy Spirit and when we can see a student who is struggling, take a quick second to share an encouraging word and give them a hug to let them know it will be okay,” Mel shared.
Over the years, they have gotten to see many students grow up. They see them come in as freshmen and mature through until their seniors. They joked, “We see a lot of relationships start too. Students might not know it, but we see it all.”
They shared they both have mentored many students and have had the opportunity to love on nursing students as they both had daughters who went through the program.
“It isn’t an easy program, and those tests are hard and mean a lot – so whenever we get the chance to speak into them, we do,” Both agreed in unison.
“Mel and Sue are amazing, sweet and kind women of God who care about each and every person who comes through. They are always there to listen and talk to you no matter what,” shared current junior, Payton Clevenger.
When asked what the best part of the job is, Sue immediately shares, “We get to make students their happy drink, if they’re having a bad day it will make it a bit better and if they are having a good day, it’s a worthwhile reward,” she continues, “it’s the best, it is like being a flower deliverer.”
Just as they are thankful for their opportunity to build relationships on campus, students and alumni share the same gratitude for them.
Crown alum Natalie Davidson ‘22 expressed her gratitude for them, “As mothers of nurses, Mel and Sue quickly became my college moms. They deeply understood the stress and pressure nursing students are under. Their smiles, hugs, prayers, encouragement, laughter, and of course delicious coffee was often just what I needed to keep going.”
While they aren’t planning to retire just yet, they hope to do it together just like they have been running the coffee shop for the past 15 years together. They are a safe place for many people at Crown and all faculty, staff, and students feel lucky to have them here. Not just as baristas, but as mentors, confidants, and friends.