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Local Viking goddess impacts community in a positive way

Susie Mullen holds one of the handmade Valentine's Day card she makes and sells herself to collect money for the San Marcos food bank
Photo by: Lesly De Leon | Staff Photographer
Susie Mullen holds one of the handmade Valentine's Day card she makes and sells herself to collect money for the San Marcos food bank.

Students recognize the pigtail braids and bright smile when they see her around campus and the city.

Susie Mullen, known as Susie from Jones by the student body, is loved by Bobcats for her constant positivity and kindness.

Mullen is a San Marcos native and a 1988 graduate from Southwest Texas State. Mullen became a substitute teacher after earning her certification in 1992, focusing on early childhood grades.

After teaching for a few years, Mullen opened her own vegetarian restaurant, Susie’s Vegetarian, on the edge of campus.

“It was a whole lot of fun,” Mullen said. “It was just great. I could cook anything I wanted. Feeding people is one of my passions, so I was able to indulge that.”

Mullen enjoyed owning a restaurant but knew she would have to close it because its location was being demolished.

“We went month-to-month knowing they could tear it down at any time for three years,” Mullen said. “And then, finally, they were ready to do that.”

After her restaurant closed, Mullen began working at the university for Chartwells nearly 11 years ago.

“San Marcos is my hometown,” Mullen said. “I grew up here, I went to school here. My father worked for the campus, so I pretty much grew up on campus, killing a lot of time at the library. I feel very at home here.”

A few years after she began working on campus, some students nicknamed her Susie the Viking Goddess and dedicated a Facebook page to Mullen. She embraced the nickname and began wearing a Viking hat a friend gave her.

Mullen, who is working at the Lair in LBJ now, was nominated to be a namesake for the 2015 Bobcat Preview. Mullen said it was a “fantastic honor.”

“The beauty of this job and one of the things that keeps me showing up all the time is that you meet so many wonderful people,” Mullen said.

In her years working at the university, Mullen has seen the student body give back to the community and show they care.

Giving back is important to Mullen. This February will mark an annual tradition of approximately eight years that Mullen has stood in the Quad wearing her Viking hat while singing encouragements to students to do their part in ending local hunger.

“If every Bobcat was to give $1, there would be no hunger in the community,” Mullen said.

Mullen combines her passions for art and feeding people by creating colorful Valentine’s Day cards to sell to students. Mullen donates all the money to the city’s food bank, collecting between $300 and $500 each year.

“It helps raise awareness with all the students at the same time that it doesn’t take much to have a big impact,” Mullen said.

Mullen is dedicated to helping others in any way possible, and when she needed it the community helped her in a big way.

In 2013, Mullen was losing her sight and needed eye surgery. The community came together to fund the procedure so she could recover her eyesight.

Mullen’s long-time friend, Jeska Savage, began a GoFundMe webpage to raise money for the surgery. Savage knew Mullen would not agree, so kept the site quiet until after enough money had been acquired for the procedure in one eye.

“She doesn’t understand how much people would want to help her,” Savage said. “I just knew as many people as we know and as wonderful as Susie is that we could probably raise that.”

Two weeks after Savage opened the GoFundMe account, the site had already collected enough money for Mullen to get the procedure done in both eyes.

“The entire community got together and raised about $6,000—enough money for me to pay for the operations,” Mullen said. “I am so grateful. I wish there was a way I could thank every one person that contributed to that site.”

Friends, family and students love Mullen for her unfailing optimism, Savage said.

“She refuses to be put down by circumstances,” Savage said. “She always finds a way to be happy with what she has.”


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