More than a boss: Dona Fifer creates a strong community of student workers on campus 

By Anna Harman

Retail Manager, Donna Fifer weaves between students, talking to someone on the phone. Her purple hair helps students locate her as she moves from one post to another. The hustle and bustle of managing the three Pioneer restaurants on Cedarville University’s campus never stops for Fifer. She oversees all the daily operations of Chick-Fil-A, Tossed and Panda Express. 

Fifer’s job mainly entails overseeing the staffing process, food costs, payroll, inspections and customer issues. 

She started working for Pioneer in 2007 when she and her husband moved to Ohio from Florida. 

“My mother-in-law lived in Ohio and passed away unexpectedly, and she was raising our two nephews, and one of them has special needs,” Fifer said. “It was clear what God wanted us to do. So we made the move to help raise our nephews.” 

In Florida, she worked at the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks which also served as her daughter’s school. She enjoyed working there until God called her family to Ohio. Once in Ohio, she came across an ad in the newspaper for ‘kitchen work in a Christian environment,’ and so she decided to apply. 

In February of 2022, Fifer had a brain aneurysm rupture. Doctors found she had an artery disease called Fibromuscular Dysplasia (FMD). Her arteries can have dissections or tears that can cause aneurysms or cause strokes. She has frequent headaches, short term memory issues, and must avoid activities that include heavy lifting. 

“I try to stay focused on the fact that I am still here and I am grateful that God was with me through that whole ordeal,” Fifier said. “I am still able to work and do my job, however, I have learned to delegate things to my managers at each venue that I would have done myself before. I try to balance home life and work life better as well.”

Fifer believes without a doubt, the greatest part of her job is the students. 

“They have had more of an impact in my life than I could ever have imagined,” Fifer said. “They are simply amazing and I am so blessed to be a part of this community. This campus is such a great place to be a part of.”

The student workers at Cedarville are equally grateful for Fifer and her leadership.

Senior Criminal Justice major, Jordan Hayes, serves as a student manager for Tossed. 

 “I think Donna does exceptionally well at balancing the three food operations,” Hayes said. “She has a lot on her plate but makes sure everything runs smoothly. I love that even with everything she is responsible for, she is still fun, kind, and will always say hello to you.”

They also admire her kind disposition and determination to get the job done.

“My favorite part of working with Donna is her fun attitude and her pure heart for the job,” said Tossed manager and senior Criminal Justice major, Sami Shupe. “She said, She loves working for the Lord and working with the students. She is an amazing manager who enjoys what she does, and you can tell that just from her pure joy she exudes.” 

Senior Pharmacy major and Tossed student manager Julie Ann Dale, said, “She is so kind, yet she still manages not to let things slide. If she sees something that needs fixed, she’s going to fix it herself or let you know that it needs to be fixed.” 

“I do not get to work with her a lot, but whenever we see eachother in public she recognizes me and takes the time to say hello,” Dale said. 

It’s hard to miss her unique look.

“Donna is in her true Donna form when she has her purple hair and is surrounded by her purple office,” Hayes said.

Fifer sums up her story by telling Cedarville students, “Never fight where God is telling you to go. He brought me here and I am grateful.” 

Anna Harman is a senior Christian Education major and also a reporter for Cedars. She appreciates writing, chai lattes, flowers, and going to concerts.

Photo by Parren Carnahan

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