Among the women making Butler University a unique and lively campus this semester is Cheristdel Bonds, a relatively recent addition to the campus Starbucks staff who serves the Butler community while developing her spirituality.
Bonds exudes warmth and spoke candidly of her life to The Collegian and members of the student feminist organization Demia in her College Avenue home.
“I was a bad girl,” she said of her young self, “but I guess I thought there was something better in me.”
Bonds, born in Jackson, Tenn., said she did not come from a religious family but discovered religion on her own. She said religion has since become a central part of who she is.
“[My kids and I] really don’t do much,” she said. “We spend a lot of time together in the house, and we go to church on Sunday. I love to go to church.”
Bonds came to Indianapolis with her mother because her maternal family was located here. Before coming to Butler, she worked at Caribou Coffee on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
“I really like working at coffee shops because you can get one on one,” she said. “I like people.”
Speaking about her first impressions of Butler, she described the community here as more friendly and outgoing than IUPUI.
“When I’m having a bad day, someone always makes me smile,” she said. “I don’t come home angry or frustrated or mad.”
In addition to her positive interactions with the Butler community, she said that she has to deal with some negativity, including a corporate environment that she said is intolerant to new ideas.
She described a new national procedure that Starbucks is instating—more frequent coffee brewing, which she feels will end up generating a lot of waste.
She also said that some policies diminish the staff’s efficiency and lead to longer lines at the register.
Bonds said that despite these flaws, she is happy with her job, and she enjoys talking with the students and knowing customers’ usual beverages.
She nailed Collegian photographer Reid Bruner’s beverage of choice without even the slightest hesitation.
As for her own preference in coffee, she said her favorite is white mocha with caramel.
While she enjoys the student interaction that her position at Butler affords her, she said that she does not plan to work here forever.
She is already working to achieve her dream: participating in televised worship services, teaching about faith and spirituality. She is training to become an usher in her congregation and has plans to join the choir.
As for the rest, she said, “I’m waiting for the higher spiritual person in me to move.”
Bonds’ powerful spirituality showed fully in her response to a question from Demia president Colleen Quilty: If you could tell women at Butler one thing, what would you tell them?
“No matter what road your life may take, always learn to forgive yourself and love yourself,” she said through light tears.
Quilty said that she has been buying coffee from Bonds for a long time but never knew anything about her family or her life outside of Starbucks.
“That’s crazy,” Quilty said. “There’s no reason [students] shouldn’t know that.”