Caldwell?s Bruce Norman: making it personal

Jenna Petrak

Jenna PetrakReporter

Through the doors of Caldwell Hall, facility worker Bruce Norman brings a smile to every resident’s face.

“He shows a personal interest in all of the students, and they respect him,” said Brendan Stratton, a community assistant in Caldwell. “You can tell he is really passionate about being around students.”

Norman held a variety of jobs before coming to SDSU a little over two years ago. He has worked as a salesman for an electronic and appliance business, a loss control manager for K-Mart and a paramedic for the Brookings Ambulance.

“I worked for a security company before, but the company got laid off, and I was looking for a job with benefits,” Norman said.

He said he applied for a job as a facility worker at SDSU because it was a job with the state, which would give him good benefits. When he was first hired, Norman began working in Young Hall.

“Over spring break, after 2-and-a-half months working in Young Hall, I moved to Caldwell because they were short-staffed,” Norman said.

Norman’s job in Caldwell is to do all of the general cleaning within the hall. Yet, residents feel he does much more than that.

“Bruce is always kind, friendly and a very welcoming face to see,” said Heidi DeBoer, sophomore hospitality management student and Caldwell resident. “He [receives] a lot of respect from us students because he shows us a lot of respect.”

Ashley Knoff, a sophomore early childhood education major and another resident of Calwell, agreed.

“Bruce goes above and beyond his cleaning duties and you can tell he enjoys his job,” said Knoff. “He is always lively, always smiling and always saying “hi’ to everyone.”

Stratton said one of Norman’s distinguishing qualities is that he knows how to talk to the residents.

“I always try to say “good morning’ and to greet students as they go,” Norman said. “You can make somebody’s day just by saying “good morning.’ I hope it makes their day better. It makes my day if they say “hi’ [back] to me.”

When he can tell residents are having a bad day, Norman said he will let them pass by without trying to strike up a conversation.

Norman is also known for the entertainment he occasionally brings residents.

“He wore a Packers shirt or jersey everyday for the two weeks prior to the Super Bowl hoping they would win it, and I guess it paid off,” Stratton said.

Norman said his two weeks of Packer pride started when he wore a Packer’s t-shirt on the Monday following the Packers’ National Football Conference championship win.

“A couple of people gave me a bad time the day after the NFC championship and asked me if I was going to wear it for two weeks straight, so I decided to,” Norman said.

Norman is known to bring the residents treats. He set homemade cookies in the dayroom during finals week, and for Halloween he brought a box of candy for the residents to share.

“It’s just something to do for them,” Norman said. “The residents are very good to me.”

Norman said while working in Caldwell he has met about 600 to 800 residents.

“Most of them are a good bunch of kids,” Norman said. “I try to show them respect, and they will show me respect back.”

DeBoer said she doesn’t know any resident who doesn’t like Norman.

“He is a great, friendly guy, and I just know he cares about us,” DeBoer said. “He just isn’t doing this job, but he respects us.”

Caldwell may be Norman’s home away from home, but Norman has made his home in White with his wife for the past 32 years. They have three children and two granddaughters, who all live in the Twin Cities.