People of the Year: Bernadette Drake

Bernadette+Drake

Bernadette Drake

Sasha Balasanov, Maroon-News Staff

Each year, The Colgate Maroon-News chooses a topic to highlight for a Special Edition. This December, our theme is “People of the Year,” modeled after Time Magazine’s annual “Person of the Year” issue. In this special section, we have profiled sixteen individuals who have had made significant—and perhaps lesser-known—impacts on Colgate’s campus this year, be they in the classroom, at the football field or even on the Cruiser. Inside, read about what defines them as worthy of recognition.

For many students, the relief of finding a ride back from town or being driven home from a night of studying in the library is brightened by one particular shining face. Bernadette Drake, one of Colgate’s many beloved cruiser drivers, has been driving at Colgate for around three years now, and she has loved every second of it. She has built lasting friendships with many students and treats them like family.

“My favorite part of the job is you guys. I love listening to you. You know, when students tell me what they want to do after they graduate and what schools they want to go to, I love that,” Drake said.

One of her most memorable experiences took place on a cold winter day during her first year driving. She dropped off a student at Big Lots earlier in the day, but when she returned to park the bus in the same lot at the end of her shift, the student was still there standing in the snow.

“I parked my bus, got in my car, and took her home,” she said.

She was off the clock, but refused to let a student remain standing in the cold while they waited for a ride. This is just one of the selfless acts that Drake does for students without a second thought.

Drake’s commitment and love for Colgate’s student body makes her many students’ favorite person to turn to when they need a mood-booster or just a friendly face. She always greets students with a huge smile and starts a conversation, even on the coldest and darkest winter days.

“No matter how early or late, her positive attitude is contagious and makes my day,” junior Hunter Maclean said.

Drake has lived in upstate New York all her life, always close to her big family. She has nine siblings, two children and three grandchildren. She currently lives in Utica, about an hour or so away from her grandchildren, who she tries to see about twice a month. Unfortunately, Drake works such long hours that she doesn’t get to see her family nearly as much as she would like.

A typical day for Drake starts with getting to Colgate at around 6:40 a.m., sometimes even earlier, to warm up her bus and prepare for the long day ahead. She works eight hour days, five days a week, but sometimes the eight hours turn into twelve when she has to make runs to the airport to pick students up. When there are special events or visitors on campus, she often works seven days straight. The commitment Drake has to Colgate and its students is evident in the time she is willing to offer to help everyone get around campus.

Despite her hectic schedule, Drake remains positive about her relationship with students and the role she plays in their lives.

“My advice to you students is to take it one day at a time. Don’t rush it. Enjoy the life you have right now,” Drake said. “Also, don’t be upset if one of our cruisers is a minute late because things do happen. You’ve been up the hill, you know how it is. Anything can happen.”

Contact Sasha Balasanov at [email protected]