For the United World College-USA’s 223 students, cook Rosalita Esquibel is the next best thing to “mom.”
“Rosalita has always played an important role in my life at UWC-USA,” said Eline Witomsky ‘21, Germany. “From the very beginning, she showed me her interest in my life, as well as in getting to know me. She is a kind soul, full of love. I couldn’t imagine this school without her.”
A mother of six, Rosalita never misses an opportunity to chat with students while serving breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday in the Montezuma Castle dining hall. She learned about kindness from her own mother, who passed in 2008 at age 86 from congestive heart failure. Rosalita was her caretaker for eight years.
“If you treat someone with kindness, they return that kindness,” she said. “I just love humanity, just talking to people. That’s my nature. To show the love. To show the peace.”
The youngest of nine children, Rosalita for the past seven years has worked for Sodexo, the food services company that manages the UWC-USA dining hall. Born and raised in Las Vegas, N.M., Rosalita left her 20-year cosmetology career, working primarily in Santa Fe, to care for her mother.
The 54-year-old enjoys talking to students because she knows they are far away from home.
“I like to be a mother figure to them, to talk to them and ask them how they are doing,” she said. “They remind me of my own children. To me it’s a motherly instinct.”
Rosalita, whose own children range from 13 to 25 years old, makes her best attempt to learn the names of all UWC-USA students.
“Some (names) are hard to pronounce, so I just call them ‘sweetie,’” she said.
Eline always looks forward to seeing Rosalita.
“She is always there to ask me about my day or to tell me a story of her own life,” Eline said. “She remembers things I had told her before and always gives me coffee because she knows that that’s all I drink.”
Eline admits that being so far away from home can be hard.
“It can feel like we’re here all by ourselves without a parent that looks after us,” she said. “Having Rosalita as part of our community is just a blessing because at least to me it feels like she is always there to listen. Rosalita is definitely one of the most impactful people I met here, and I know that I will always have a place in my heart for her. She is amazing.”
Ben Curry ’21, USA-New Mexico, also can attest to Rosalita’s kindness.
“I got to know Rosalita as she made omelets every morning last year,” Ben said. “We would talk about New Mexico, what it means to be a New Mexican, her favorite meals, and the recent happenings in her life.”
He noted that she often shares details about the dishes she prepares, especially the Mexican (dishes), describing the spices, cooking process and key ingredients.
“Rosalita has always been kind to me and is an amazing member of the Sodexo team,” Ben said.
Rafael Goncalves Gregorio Peres ’21, Portugal, talked about meeting Rosalita for the first time.
“I remember seeing her warm smile, which immediately captivated me,” Rafael said. “I would say that she seems to carry the sun inside of her, and that is why she immediately reminded me of home.”
He called Rosalita the light in his day.
“I can tell she really cares,” Rafael said. “Rosalita rarely does small talk; every single word of her has a meaning, is tender, cozy, and welcoming.”