‘Miss Ceil’ Captures (and Saves) Hearts of College Community

Matt DeFonzo
Staff Reporter

Most of the people that we call “unsung heroes” have never saved someone’s life. However, if someone said such a thing about Ceil Bowens, that person might want to recheck his sources.

Bowens, who swipes cards at the entrance to Englar Dining Hall from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. each weekday, played a critical role in helping co-worker Helen Barrick who suffered a heart attack on January 25, 2007.
Upon reporting to work that morning, Barrick came out of the back area of Glar and sat down at one of the tables in the dining hall because she did not feel well. She then got up to use the bathroom, but did not return for a long period of time, so Bowens went into the bathroom to check on her, then called the manager when she found Barrick was very sick. Barrick believes she suffered the heart attack sometime between sitting at the table in the dining hall and her time in the bathroom.

Aside from responding to concerns about people’s physical health, Bowens is also apt to help students who are having problems, according to Administrative Assistant Karamae McCauley. McCauley said some students adore Bowens so much they will bring their parents in to meet her. Others will even bring their own sons or daughters in to meet her, once they have gotten married and had children.

Barrick echoed that sentiment, saying that Bowens, who is known to most by the name of Ms. Ceil, will “?go out of her way to help anyone.”

Jake McCurry, a senior English major, said that when he is in a bad mood, Bowens says something to make him feel better.

Asked what Bowens does to cheer him up, McCurry replied, “Sing me a song.” He explained that Bowens sings religious songs, such as “Shine Jesus, Shine,” to him and that because he is very religious, the songs make him feel better.

McCurry said that sometimes Bowens will tell him a joke to put him in a better mood.

Bowens also commented on her ability to help people.

“I don’t even like the break. I just like takin’ care of you guys,” she said when asked how many breaks she receives during the day.
Bowens does not even become angry when a student is impolite or impatient with her.

“When somebody get mean I just tune it out,” she remarked. She added that if a student does say something “wrong,” they will usually return later and apologize to her.

Clearly, Bowens enjoys her job a great deal. Asked what her favorite part of working at McDaniel is, Bowens replied, “Dealing with you guys.”

“I don’t know what it is,” she admitted. “I love being out here with y’all?.”

Bowens enjoys her job so much that at the end of the fall semester in 2008, she wanted to be working in the dining hall, not taking time off, according to Glar employee Robert Neuberth.

After all that, it should come as no surprise that Bowens is generally considered a nice person.

“Oh, she’d go out of her way to be polite?,” said Barrick of Bowens’ days as a server, one of the jobs she performed prior to swiping cards.

McCurry described Bowens as “kind,” “gentle,” and always prepared to listen. He said that Bowens is like a second mom.
McCurry confided that he and his friends gave her a nickname.

“Some people I know, we call her ‘Momma C,'” he said. According to McCurry, “Momma C” stands for “Momma Ceil.”

Bowens, who was born in Frederick and raised in Westminster, has had a lengthy tenure at McDaniel. She began working on “The Hill” at age 16. She has worked here ever since, with her total number of years on the job currently at 43.

During her time at McDaniel, she not only performed other duties in the cafeteria, such as serving food, but also worked other jobs on campus, including maintenance duties.

“Whatever it was, I did it. A little bit of everything,” Bowens said of her varying jobs.

Bowens, whose official title is supervisor, now swipes students’ cards, a job she gets up extraordinarily early to do, rising at 2 or 3 a.m.
“It’s a habit. I’ve been doin’ it for years,” Bowens said of her sleep patterns.

To top everything off, she is also a humble person. Asked if she considers herself an “unsung hero,” Bowens said no. Asked why she felt that way, Bowens said, “I just don’t I guess.”