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Stirring memories of the Blend’s beginnings

Those whose path regularly takes them through the ground floor of Roesch Library appreciate the Blend, a coffee shop with the distinction of being the oldest student-run business on campus. When the Blend changes vendors or offers another innovative drink, they notice. One employee, however, has the unique perspective of having worked on the path leading up to the Blend’s existence and knowing how it felt as a student to learn all about the business of selling coffee.

Catherine Mix, known as Catherine Weber while she attended UD in the late 1990s, is proud of how many students the Blend has impacted through experiential learning. As assistant vice president for enrollment management and director of financial aid, she meets many students and has the opportunity to draw from her experiences as a UD student.  For Mix, the idea of a coffee shop on campus was especially appealing because she had worked at one during high school.

“The initial work was to develop a business plan,” said Mix, who got involved with plans for the Blend as a first-year student. “I was lucky I got to see it come to fruition.”

The native of Fostoria, OH, has fond memories of working with mentors including Deb Bickford, currently associate provost for academic affairs and executive director of the LTC, to hire students to work at the Blend, identify vendors, and purchase equipment. “We got a lot of guidance and help in talking to vendors and figuring profit margins,” Mix recalls.

While not normally an early riser during college, Mix eagerly set her alarm for 5:30-6:00 amwould often be at the Blend in the early hours of the morning “Because I was passionate about working. What made the work enjoyable was the number of staff and faculty who came to the Blend.  We knew students would be attracted to a coffee shop, but seeing having regular faculty and staff customers was great.”

After graduation, Mix worked in the area for a year and then returned to UD to take a position in financial aid.  Working with students allows Mix to recognize similar experiences she had while studying here.  “It’s humbling,” she said.  “I recently met with a student fromfrom the current president of Flyer Consulting. It was a poignant moment for me, to see a young, female student taking advantage of an incredible opportunity. It made me think about how I may have looked as a student. It was a reflective moment.”

Mix’s perspective as a former student, current employee, and mother of a high-school senior leads to helpful advice for today’s students. “College should be a time of exploration and trying something you haven’t tried before. It’s saying ‘yes’ before you might be completely ready. UD has a network of support to actualize your ‘yes’.”

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