SOCORRO, N.M., July 15, 2002 -- Miguel Garza, a five-year employee of Chartwells Dining Services at New Mexico Tech, recently was named the recipient of the "Be a Star" Regional Associate of the Year Award for the national company's western region.
The annual award is sponsored by Chartwells College and University Dining Services, a division of the Compass Group.
Garza traveled last week to Houston to accept his award at a regional meeting of Chartwells managers and administrators. The Chartwells western region encompasses dining services provided by the company to colleges and universities in 14 western states.
"I was surprised -- very surprised -- to hear I had won this award," says Garza. "However, I feel my winning this award reflects more on the quality of the people I work with than it does on the work I do."
In his current position as supervisor/manager at Chartwells at New Mexico Tech, Garza says he works alongside 20 other Chartwells employees on a daily basis, but considers himself more of a "jack-of-all-trades," a team player lending a hand wherever and whenever he's needed.
"I'm involved with all aspects of the operations--from working the serving line, to catering, to cooking, to baking, to retail sales in the Tech Canteen," Garza relates.
"I even work on the computers when we have problems with them," he adds. "If I can't get them fixed, then we call ISD (New Mexico Tech's Information Services Department)."
Earlier this year, Garza was among a handful of Compass Group employees from throughout the world who were chosen to temporarily relocate to Salt Lake City to provide dining services for the athletes and staff at the Olympic Village during the 2002 Winter Olympics.
For those 60 days in Utah, Garza was able to rub elbows with several world-class athletes and renowned sports personalities, but none of them impressed him as much as the disabled athletes participating in the Paralympics, which was being held there at the same time, he says.
"There was one German lady, for instance, who sticks in my mind, who was blind and competing in the biathlon," Garza recounts. "It was amazing to me that she could peg all her targets. . . . Her trainer later explained to me that visually impaired competitors like her are actually given audible cues through earsets once their shooting rifles line up with targets."
Garza, a soft-spoken, unassuming young man, is obviously more comfortable speaking about the achievements of others than he is of his own accomplishments.
He is quick to point out that even though his recent award is a first for dining services employees at New Mexico Tech, the local Chartwells group has been recognized as one of the best in the western region for five years running now.
"Chartwells at New Mexico Tech was picked again this year for the regional 'Five-Star Account Award,' and that directly reflects on the good job that our director Dave Culberson has been doing all this time," Garza notes.
Garza, a resident of Socorro since 1981 and a Socorro High School graduate, is the son of Aurora Sanchez-Garza of Socorro.