ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) –Students and staff at the University of New Mexico are saying goodbye to an iconic personality. 77-year-old, Shirley Tartaglia, has worked at one of UNM’s cafeterias for over a decade and Friday she retired. 

Tartaglia has been working at La Posada cafeteria for more than 16 years. Throughout the day, people stopped by to express their gratitude to their favorite employee, and friend. 

Shirley Tartaglia has been a familiar face at the La Posada cafeteria since she started working at UNM back in 2007. Students said no matter the time of day they swiped in to eat, Tartaglia always greeted them with a smile. News of her retirement left students reminiscing. 

“It’s going to be really sad not having her around but, I feel like as long as she was here she was the best person to me,” said Ana Quijano, senior at UNM. 

Students brought her flowers and one even played her a song on the guitar. “She’s such a kind sweet soul. It just makes the mornings so much better, especially if it’s like an exam or just rough stuff going on, she’s always there for like the students,” says Tomas Chacon, a sophomore at UNM. 

Even though thousands of students pass through the cafeteria, Tartaglia knows them on a first-name basis. People said she always greets them with a smile and her signature fist bump. Tartaglia said her experience at UNM has been one of the best times of her life and considers everyone there her family. 

“It’s very bittersweet, very very bittersweet, it’s hard saying goodbye. Some of them made me almost cry, some of them actually had tears,” says Tartaglia. 

Tartaglia said that she will be moving back to her hometown in Pennsylvania, where she still has family. She said she’ll miss her daughter and granddaughters in New Mexico, and also her UNM family. “Right now the last few years it’s been my life…I’ll miss this, I’ll miss it,” says Tartaglia. 

Last week, the Residence Life and Student Housing Department created an award in her honor called the “Shirley Award”. It will be presented to future employees that go above and beyond to improve the student experience. UNM said they are still finalizing details of the award but are hoping to present the “Shirley Award” annually.