Screen shot 2014-12-17 at 3.09.01 PMPerched atop a chair in the Bartlett Parking Garage parking attendant office is Nelda Echoles-Stewart–and her friendly face. For anyone who has parked in Bartlett anytime over the last 19 years, you know whom we are talking about.

The wife and mother of a 16-year-old son is not someone you soon forget. That’s because she easily connects with just about everyone she meets.

A St. Louis native, Nelda’s family moved to South Bend where she graduated from LaSalle High School in 1980. Nelda wanted to go to college, but it never materialized like she hoped. She landed a job at Memorial in 1995, performing clerical work before moving to parking services at her now famous post on the first floor of Bartlett.

With a desire to return to school, Nelda enrolled in Memorial’s free School at Work program in 2009. The six-month program was the perfect catalyst for Nelda’s second attempt at college. “School at Work was great and I encouraged other people to do it,” she says with her usual enthusiasm.

It was during School at Work she learned about the older adult program at Indiana Wesleyan University. In 2009 she began online classes at Indiana Wesleyan. Five years later, Nelda is the proud recipient of a hard-earned bachelor’s degree in business management.Asked how she felt about the accomplishment, she exclaimed, “’Thank you Jesus.’ It took prayer, focus and discipline.”

Don’t think Nelda is done with school; she started the master’s program at Indiana Wesleyan earlier this fall. She wants to stay at Memorial, though, her interest is “training or mentoring” people.

“I love my job. I like working with people and I’ve made a lot of friends over the years.”

Nelda’s approach to work is the same one she applies to life: “Have a positive attitude. It doesn’t hurt to smile, to say good morning. A kind smile, an encouraging word is very helpful, especially at the hospital.”

Along with her cheerful attitude comes empathy.

“I don’t know what someone has just gone through that day so I want to make sure I smile and leave them with a positive impression of Memorial.”

Nelda has been taking care of thousands of patients and visitors—in her own way—through her compassionate heart and joyful nature.

“I have people tell me that I’m the reason they’ll park in Bartlett. When I hear that, that makes my day.”

 

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