Campus News Campus Spotlight

Assistant manager supports student success 

Aleah Wilkins is assistant manager of the Einstein Bros. Bagels shop inside the Science Learning Center. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Aleah Wilkins says patience is key to leadership

Aleah Wilkins uses an important trait—patience––to succeed as a leader.

In her role as assistant manager at Einstein Bros. Bagels in the Science Learning Center, she supervises and trains more than 20 student employees.

Wilkins grew up in the Athens area and joined Dining Services as a part-time cashier in 2017. Initially, she considered it as a temporary job, but she found herself drawn to the position due to her love for service and the university’s benefits. Her commitment deepened as she transitioned to a full-time position in 2020.

“I love my job,” Wilkins said. “To know you have made somebody’s day just by serving them bagels and coffee with the best customer service is a great feeling.”

Assistant manager Aleah Wilkins puts gourmet bagels in the oven at the Einstein Bros. Bagels shop inside the Science Learning Center.

There is much more to her role than serving coffee and bagels, however. Wilkins trains dozens of student employees, opens the unit every day, orders products and completes administrative work to keep the store running smoothly. She also handles all catering orders in the Science Learning Center, along with reducing waste in her unit.

In August 2022, Wilkins attended a seven-day training course in Denver, Colorado, with Einstein Bros. employees from all over the world. While she was there, she received a certificate recognizing her as the top assistant manager out of 40 others.

“That was a big achievement for me and to bring back to my team,” she said.

While she enjoys the behind-the-scenes work, she also likes engaging with students. She believes connecting with students and coaching their development makes a difference in their success.

“As I train student employees, I’ve learned that this job has been a first for a few of them,” she said. “Patience is the No. 1 quality to have.”

It may take a couple of weeks for a new employee to nail down a process or remember a recipe. Wilkins says gentle encouragement and understanding go a long way in these instances.

Aleah Wilkins has worked full time in Dining Services since 2020. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Often, she feels like a mentor for many of the students she trains. She tailors her approach to their needs, ensuring that each student receives relevant feedback. Most of all, she encourages open dialogue in the workplace.

“Ask questions,” she said. “I feel like all you have to do is ask. It doesn’t matter how many times you ask; you’ll eventually get it right.”

She leans on this piece of advice when it comes to training new student workers. Listening to them, understanding their challenges and providing a supportive environment have become integral aspects of her leadership style.

“I enjoy knowing that I have helped in different ways, giving them experience to carry on once they leave,” she said.

In addition to her professional responsibilities, Wilkins is a devoted mother to two children, ages 4 and 6. The benefits and flexibility provided by her job in Dining Services have played a crucial part in supporting her family.

“My kids are my everything and the reason I do what I do,” she said.

Wilkins graduated from Cedar Shoals High School and now has her sights set on higher education opportunities offered through the university system. She plans to pursue a degree that aligns with her love for numbers and math to continue advancing at UGA.

“I’ve always been a dedicated worker; there’s nothing I don’t see myself accomplishing,” she said.