Michelle Eggerichs: Profile on the “heart of the history department”


Contributed by Michelle Eggerichs

Michelle Eggerichs works as the office administrative assistant for the history, legal studies and philosophy departments. Eggerichs regularly leaves out food and coffee for students, she has been described by faculty members as the “heart of the history department” who goes beyond the call of duty for students and staff.

Ren Gennerman, Features Editor

If someone has walked through the second floor of Minnè Hall, they may have seen an office tucked away that houses the history, philosophy and legal studies departments. However, if they have ever gone inside, they soon realize that Michelle Eggerichs helps to make the office so much more than just an office.

Eggerichs is the office administrative assistant for the history, legal studies and philosophy departments.  Though she tells everyone her job is different from moment to moment and that there’s no ‘typical’ day, her job mostly consists of running the office, coordinating department needs, fixing issues and ensuring everything is running smoothly. This can include everything from scheduling, to helping sick professors, to helping students throughout the day.

However, on top of all her administrative duties, Eggerichs also makes a point to personally help any student or professor who comes in. This is obvious to anyone who walks into her office, as free coffee, sugary treats, fruit and tea are always available. 

“I try to make the office as welcoming as possible because between the students and professors, everyone has stress in their life.” Eggerichs said. “A lot of the students don’t have the time or money to get something to eat sometimes, so if I can keep apples or bananas or granola bars, and some bad stuff too like donuts, it lets students have the ability to feed themselves.”

But what inspires Eggerichs to keep treats for anyone who walks by? She credits the decision to her wish to give back to those around her. Though her grandfather was a minister, Michelle doesn’t adhere to an organized religion. However, knowing that she can make someone’s day just by providing them food or coffee is her way of not only connecting with people, but honoring those who have helped her before.

“People have been there for me in the past when I’ve been in a bad situation,” Eggerichs said. “If I can offer someone coffee, fruit, sugary treats or a hug, I will.”

Eggerichs also understands at many parents may feel better sending their kids to college if they know they would have someone looking out for their kids. After sending her oldest son to Florida for college, Eggerichs only hoped someone would take him under their wing.

Eggerichs has worked a few jobs in Winona, but no matter what the job was, she always kept a snack drawer for herself or others who wanted them.

Before working in her position at Winona State, Eggerichs worked for over seven years as a legal administrative assistant after graduating from Winona State with a business and accounting degree.

Before Winona State, she had already earned a legal assistant degree from Minnesota State College Southeast Technical.

After that, she worked as the director of operations at Bluff City properties, a rental company in Winona. From 2002-2007, she was the catering director for Chartwells, and then after taking a temp job for the history department, she applied for a permanent position and got it in 2012.

Eggerichs not only helps the department run smoothly for professors, but also for the students

on her campus. Besides providing sweet treats, Eggerichs has gone into history classrooms and passed around coffee, taken sick students to the local clinic and has dropped off chicken soup when she knows someone doesn’t have the support to help them through an illness. To Eggerichs, all this work is worth it.

“I’ve had a couple students who graduated and used to come in every day before class to get food and coffee,” Eggerichs said. “When one of the students came back after he graduated, he told me that he wanted me to know how much he appreciated me feeding him because some days he didn’t have anything to eat. If that were my kid, I would hope someone would do that for them.”

Professors and faculty in Michelle’s department see her hard work and recognize how valuable it is. Juandrea Bates and Tomas Tolvaisas, assistant professors in the history department, are particularly grateful for her.

“Michelle is truly the heart of the history department. She goes so far above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the success of our students and faculty,” Juandera Bates said. “Whether it is last minute help for a project or a word of encouragement, I always know that I can go to Michelle for help.”

Tolvaisas raved about her dedication to the department and helping those in it succeed.

“[Eggerichs] has been a precious supporter of my teaching and community-related activism,” Tolvaisas said. “In particular, she has been instrumental in helping Professor John Campbell, my colleague in the department and myself organize and implement a Civil Rights Travel Program for Winona State students between 2013 and 2014. Eggerichs has also [done a] tremendous job assisting me with organization and advertisement of a number of public events on- and off-campus that featured and honored local veterans.”