A profile on Sandy Rothering


Contributed by Winona State University

Sandy Rothering sits at the cash register of the Jack Kane Dining Center in Kryzsko Commons. Rothering has worked at Winona State since 2001, and has been working the Jack Kane cash register for the past nine years.

Lauren Saner, Copy Editor

The story behind the cashier that knows everyone

Anyone who has visited the Jack Kane Dining Center at Winona State University during lunchtime has met Sandy Rothering, the person who always greets you on your way into the cafeteria.

Although many people see Rothering daily, many do not know her story.

Rothering was born and raised in Winona. She grew up with three brothers and two sisters and lived across the tracks on Belleview Street, before some buildings on campus had been built.

When Rothering was younger, she had big dreams that her family did not agree with.

“In fourth grade, I went to school down here and I went home, and I said ‘Dad, can I go to college?’ And he said ‘Absolutely not. Girls don’t go to college. Girls stay home to have babies,’” Rothering said. “I determined at that time that [it] would not happen. And now I’m in college every day.”

As a young adult, Rothering was able to get some higher education, even though her father did not encourage her furthering her education.

“When I was 19 and I thought I knew everything, I needed to get out of here, so I moved out of here and I was gone for 32 years, and then I came back. I wanted to be a secretary at the White House,” Rothering said. “When my dad died, he left me a little bit of money and it was just barely enough to cover a semester in bible school, and then when I was in Indiana, I taught Sunday school for 25 years. That was so much fun.”

While in Indiana, Rothering also ran a daycare out of her house, worked in a hospital and managed a seafood restaurant. She ended up working at a hospital because she needed a major surgery that her insurance could not cover as a daycare provider, so she worked so her surgery could be covered.

After spending 32 years in Indiana, Rothering decided to return to Winona in 2001.

“I had my surgery, then I moved back up here and had to take six months off of work to get a job, so then I looked for a job and finally found this one,” Rothering said.

Rothering has been working at Winona State University for 15 years and has had her fair share of jobs on campus. She started out cooking at Lourdes Dining Center, then moved to Jack Kane Dining Center, then was assigned back to Lourdes to work the cash register and then moved one last time to work the cash register at Jack Kane, and has been working there for about nine years.

“I started out cooking, and then I got some kind of a cyst on my foot, had surgery, it didn’t heal, so I couldn’t be on my feet anymore,” Rothering said, explaining how she ended up working at the cash register on campus.

John Sinniger, the director of dining services, said the position is perfect for Rothering.

“Sandy is the perfect type of individual you want at that type of a position because she’s kind hearted, she’s considerate,” Sinniger said. “She takes it upon herself where she knows the students—most of them and a lot of them by name. [Rothering] presents more of a welcoming atmosphere, and addition to that, she’s respected.”

Rothering is also dedicated to her family and is still close with her brothers and sisters, many of whom live in the area.

“I have a ton of family. They’re mostly in the area. I have a brother who lives across the river in Wisconsin, he built a log home and it’s huge, so that’s where we have parties,” Rothering said.

While Rothering does not have any kids of her own, she formed bonds with many children.

“I did count [my nieces and nephews] one time. I want to say [I have] 25,” Rothering said. “So when we have family get-togethers, it’s fun. But they’re growing up now. The youngest one is probably around 30 and the oldest is 51.”

Rothering also has a connection to a girl that was in her daycare while she was in Indiana.

“The first person in my daycare when I had my daycare, she was six months old, and her name is Kara. We have stayed in contact all these years,” Rothering said. “She’s 28 now and she just got married, so I went back for that this last summer and she’s getting ready to come up here to visit and she’s just been my kid the whole time. We just bonded.”

Rothering continues to keep an eye out for kids. She now lives behind Jefferson Elementary School, and enjoys watching the kids going home at the end of the day.

“I love it in the winter time because [the kids coming home from school] get a snowball, and then they start rolling it until it’s too big to move, and then they get another snowball and the whole yard is covered,” Rothering said. “I love to watch them do that.”

In her free time, Rothering enjoys shopping in Rochester and La Crosse or online, as well as making crafts.

“I do some crafts. I can’t sew. My motto is ‘if I can’t glue it, I can’t do it,’ so I make little things,” Rothering said. “I like to do papier-mâché. I like to do things for the kids, but I use cookie molds for the papier-mâché, and then you can do name tags for Christmas and things like that. It’s easier because my hands don’t do what they used to do, so it has to be easy.”

Because Rothering enjoys working with kids, she said her favorite part of working at Winona State is the students.

“I love working with the students,” Rothering said. “I see so many [students] and it’s interesting to know what their majors are and where they’re going after this. It’s exciting to me.”

Students at Winona State also love Rothering. Susan Miller, a senior biology major, and Meghan Knudsen, a sophomore music education and performance major, both have enjoyed interacting with Rothering.

“I don’t have any specific stories, but Sandy can always make my day, whether it’s a sassy comment or words of encouragement,” Miller said.

Knudsen looked back on a memory she had with Rothering.

“My freshman year I went and talked to her before one of my performances. I was so nervous and she was so supportive. She listened to me talk out my nerves and told me I’d be great. I wouldn’t have survived the year without her. When she would call me by name it was so important to me especially as a freshman when no one knows you,” Knudsen said. “She is a lovely person whose smile will make your day 1000 times better. She has a heart for the students here and is incredibly kind to everyone. She is one of Winona State’s shining pearls. I’d trade Zane’s or the tunnels or the beautiful bluffs for Sandy in a heartbeat.”