Susie Mullen’s eyes light up when she speaks about her love of serving students.
The former elementary school teacher no longer works in a classroom, but continues to impact the lives of students daily.
Mullen, or as people might know her, “The Viking Goddess of Jones Dining Hall,” has been the subject of a small, but viral phenomenon on Facebook. A group announcing a love of Mullen appeared March 15 and has since gained 3,570 fans. The group contains 2,432 more members than the Bobcats for FBS Football group and 499 more than the Texas State Athletics page.
Mullen, a San Marcos native, attended Southwest Texas State University, earned an English degree in 1988 and in 1992, a teaching certificate.
Mullen worked on grants during her time as a teacher and because of her acts, was continually between jobs. She used her downtime from teaching to pursue other endeavors.
“In between grants, I kept getting laid off,” Mullen said. “I started watching PBS, and I thought you had to be a born artist to paint, but I found out through public broadcasting, it’s paint on a brush and anybody can do it.”
Mullen decided to enter the business world at the time she discovered her artistic side. She opened Susie’s Vegetarian in April 2003, and the restaurant stayed open for two years. Downtime at the restaurant provided Mullen with an opportunity to refine her craft.
“I would have long periods of time by myself in the restaurant to practice painting,” Mullen said.
Mullen’s acrylic and watercolor works have been displayed in a series of art shows at Wake the Dead Coffee House. Her artwork will be on display in May at the coffee shop .
“It’s what I have to give,” Mullen said.
Mullen found herself in need of new employment when her restaurant closed. The job search took her back to the university she graduated from 20 years earlier.
In January 2006, Mullen began swiping students’ meal trades.
“It amazes me a normal person, an ordinary person who is doing a regular job like cashiering, can have such an effect on so many people,” Mullen said. “I think that’s one of the lessons I’ve learned. You really don’t think what you do affects many people but something like this goes to show you it really has an effect.”
Mel Montanez, music studies junior, began the Facebook group “Vote Susie Viking Goddess of Jones Dining Hall forOn-Campus Senator,” which has since gained 264 members.
“Susie has always stuck to her guns as far as who she is,” Montanez said. “That is something very admirable and adds to her charm. She has become a staple of Texas State’s little quirks and culture on campus.”
Mullen, who does not own a computer, was caught off guard when a friend showed her the pages.
“I’m amazed,” Mullen said. “It’s like being hit with a hurricane of love. I had no idea, but it’s really wonderful. The students have been so nice, and I love working with them, but they’re a lovely bunch to work with every day.”