If you walk into the HUB and grab yourself a coffee, you will probably run into the famous barista here on campus, Tracy Wyatt. She greets everyone with a smile and gets to know as many students as she can. But what’s her story?
By Kera Parrott, Contributor
Tracy Wyatt remembers the day Ingrid Gress Daciuk, a junior in criminal justice, came in and asked if she was going to be working all day. Wyatt told her yes. A little while later, Gress Daciuk came in with a pie for her. She told Wyatt that she wanted to get her something to share with her family.
Wyatt is famous for being a barista at Huntington University. From her birth in Decatur, Ind., to working as a substitute teacher and being an employee at a plastic factory, General Motors, and Walmart, she is also known for giving out pieces of advice. And the students love her for it.
“The students are very courteous, and they are extremely compassionate,” Wyatt said with a smile. “My husband tells me not to treat them like my own kids, but it’s really hard not to.”
The president of HU, Sherilyn Emberton, came into Starbucks one day. Wyatt said to her: “I have never been anywhere where there is so much understanding of other people’s feelings, and, you know, the compassion that I see from the kids.”
The young female students in particular praise each other and lift each other up, she said. Wyatt has worked at places where that doesn’t happen. So to see that environment is very heartwarming for her.
Gress Daciuk, who doesn’t always order a cup of coffee, sees Wyatt almost every morning just to chat before classes.
“I gave her the pie because she has always been so nice with me, and I wanted to show her how grateful I am for her,” Gress Daciuk said in an email interview.
Tracy Wyatt was born in Decatur, Ind., along with her younger brother. For most of her life, she has lived in Indiana. She was told by her parents that she once lived down in Florida for a little while. They moved back to Decatur to be around family. Wyatt attended Bluffton high school and graduated there in 1988.
During her high school years, she loved sports. She played basketball, tennis, and track for a small amount of time until she realized that she did not like to run. Wyatt also had a job during her high school years. She worked as a cashier at a farm store in Bluffton at the age of 16 for about a year and a half. She also did babysitting every now and then. She wasn’t able to have many jobs because sports kept her busy.
After graduating high school, Wyatt would start her journey into adulthood. Wyatt planned on going to a business college and wanted to be a veterinarian assistant, and eventually move on to become a veterinarian.
This did not go as planned. The day after her high school graduation, she had discovered that she was pregnant with her daughter, Sitterra. She had decided that it was more important to step up to be a parent. She decided to put her career goals on hold. She and her daughter’s father had gotten married and bought a trailer home in Bluffton, Ind., as their first home together.
In 1992, she gave birth to her son, Daniel, and decided that she would start doing substitute teaching. She left this job and went on to work full time at Fabriform, a plastic factory. There she ran machines and fork lifts, loaded and unloaded trucks, and also worked in maintenance. During this time, Wyatt and her daughter’s father got divorced in 1996.
She then went to work at General Motors as a temporary summer position. Then she went back to Fabriform. She worked there until they shut down the factory, and then went on to work at Walmart for 19 years. During this time, she also got married to Tim Wyatt in 2016.
After she left her job at Walmart, she continued to look for a job. As she was searching, she came across an application for a barista here at HU. She was familiar with the campus because her son had been to a basketball camp here. She thought it over and decided that it could be a good thing for her to apply. She has now been working here for about 7 months, since October 2021.
“I love it. I love it. Very little stress. An amazing environment. Look at that view behind me—Come on now!” Wyatt said, referring to Lake Sno-Tip.
Wyatt said that the best part about her job is seeing the students and creating bonds with them.
“She once told me that it is better to have a job you love than a job that pays you more,” said Gress Daciuk.
One day Wyatt and Madison Schultis, a freshman elementary education major at HU, were making origami in the HUB, and Noah Mondor, a freshman sociology major at HU, was listening to them. Mondor asked what they were doing, and then asked if he could join them because he loved doing origami. They gladly said yes.
“It was absolutely amazing to watch him do this,” said Wyatt, intrigued with his skills since he is blind.
Schultis said that she had fun hanging out with her and Mondor. Her favorite thing about Wyatt is that she is “a live spirit” and “so much fun.”
“She is our Campus Mom, there are days that I need that,” Schultis said. “For me and many other people on campus. It’s very nice to know, like, she can see in me what I aspire to see in myself.”
A coworker of Wyatt, Bailey Bostwick, a ministry major at HU, is good friends with Wyatt.
One day Wyatt said she was having a rough day, and Bailey had noticed. She asked if everything was okay. Bostwick came back with some chocolates, a card, and flowers.
“It almost made me cry,” Wyatt said. “It was just the fact that they had gone together and did that for me. It was a big deal, it really was.”
Bostwick described Wyatt as hard working, trusting, and loving.
“The advice she gives is surreal, and the support she gives is unmatched,” said Bostwick. “She’s taught me that the hardships in life are what help keep me grounded and rooted in my faith.”
She also goes on to say how supportive Wyatt is of the students here and how she tries her best to make them feel loved.
“She’s always telling me to never give up because of how strongly she believes in me,” Bostick said.
Wyatt said the worst thing about her job is the 30-minute drive from home. She gets up at 4:30 every morning, but when she gets to campus, it is all worth it.
Wyatt currently has more than 20 drink recipes memorized.
“If you make a vanilla latte, it’s the same as a caramel latte, just without the caramel,” Wyatt explained.
Wyatt has a reputation of coming up with off-the-menu drinks. She creates with these with ideas from her friends that work in the upper level of the HUB. They send her these every now and then.
She also just simply looks up recipes on Pinterest or other places on the internet. She does this when there are certain ingredients that need to be used, such as coconut milk.
Her favorite special drink is a frozen caramel macchiato, which is a vanilla bean frappe with caramel on the bottom, then vanilla bean in the middle, then shots of espresso on top, which melt their way down.
Her least favorite drink that she came up with is a matcha drink for the anniversary of Huntington University. Wyatt was given the task to make a special drink to hand out with a free cookie to engage students.
Her favorite on-the-menu Starbucks drink is a caramel macchiato. Her least favorite drink is anything made with matcha.
“It smells like fresh cut grass,” Wyatt said, laughing. “I just can’t get past that.”
She explained the weirdest order someone has asked her to make was a matcha latte with chocolate drizzle on the outside of the cup with whip cream and more chocolate drizzle on top.
“I wouldn’t think chocolate would go with grass,” Wyatt said.
Wyatt has fun working here at HU, but she does not ignore the stress she sees in students.
“Enjoy your time here, don’t stress over the little things,” Wyatt said. “Enjoy your close friends, and keep them after you leave here. Slow down. Everything will be out there, it’s all gonna be there. I know it’s hard do to because you have so much homework and so many things to do. I remember those days where I had to rush-rush-rush. I missed out on so much.”
Wyatt lives in Wells County, two miles from the Huntington County line.
Her daughter, Sitterra, is married and has two children: a granddaughter, 11, and a grandson, 5. The daughter is a financial consultant and lives on the north side of Fort Wayne.
Wyatt’s son, Daniel, is married and has a son, 2. He works at a mill as a welder. He lives in what used to be his great grandmother’s house in Bluffton, Ind.
Wyatt said to stop by and talk with her any time—just don’t order a matcha with chocolate drizzle!