Northeast Loves Miss Kay

Kay Gilfert is a beloved figure in the Northeast Community College Dining Room

Photographs by Seth Johanson

Kay Gilfert is a beloved figure in the Northeast Community College Dining Room

Casey Peters

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She’s there everyday when you go to breakfast and lunch, she knows your name and cares about your day. Her name is Kay Gilfert, but students at Northeast know her as Miss Kay. Kay has an uncanny ability to remember students’ faces and names. If someone came back from 20 years ago, she would be able to tell you their first name. Kay has been working in the Northeast cafeteria for almost 25 years now. She says she plays a game with her brain to remember each name. Kay will always look you in the eye when you see her, she doesn’t just look at your face.

Miss Kay at the Hawk Spot register

Miss Kay at the Hawk Spot register


“There are so many students that come from so far away,” Kay said, “they need someone to call ‘mom’ or ‘grandma’ while they are here, away from their real families and I love being that someone.” Some students are shy too, so being called by their first name hopefully makes their day better, Kay said.

Miss Kay with a student in the Northeast cafeteria

She loves being able to see new faces each new semester. Interacting with each student, listening to their crazy stories, and learning more about their personal life is what Miss Kay enjoys most.


Kay Gilfert has had cancer two times. During the last week in May, 2011, Kay was working at the cash register just like any other day.  What Northeast students and staff did that ordinary day, made Kay appreciate them beyond anything she could have imagined.  All sorts of people started flooding in from down the stairs and through the front doors wearing t-shirts saying “Support Kay”. With tears in her eyes as she spoke of this favorite memory, Kay said, “They came out of nowhere. It was the biggest surprise. One of them walked up to me holding a big bouquet of flowers while another handed me a check for $1,167. It was wonderful, and for it all to be organized by students and me not knowing a thing about it the whole time.” It is clear Northeast students appreciate Miss Kay as much as she does them.


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