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Mia González Guerrero serves coffee and kindness

A woman in a white shirt and black apron poses in front of an espresso machine.
Mia González Guerrero works at Witherspoon's in Frist Campus Center.
Photo by Rodolfo Arzaga / The Daily Princetonian

As Mia González Guerrero sees it, she has two jobs. The first is what Campus Dining pays her to do — serve coffee and pastries at Frist Campus Center. And the second? To “give love.”

González Guerrero was born in La Vacama, a village in the Dominican Republic. She has also lived in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Spain, and Chicago, where she completed a master’s degree and worked in marketing and communications for more than 10 years. She was working at a company  in the restaurant industry when the pandemic hit, forcing her to switch gears and contemplate her next steps. 


Following her intuition, González Guerrero moved to Trenton, New Jersey soon after. From there, it was a childhood memory of watching television in her grandmother’s house that led her to Princeton.

“For some reason, something caught my attention: a student ... with a jacket that said ‘Princeton University.’ I promise — I was nine years old,” González Guerrero said. “That came not only into my eyes, but it went into my heart.”

After visiting Princeton from her home in Trenton, González Guerrero immediately knew the Orange Bubble was where she belonged. After attending a job fair and sending in an application to work for Campus Dining, she received an offer. González Guerrero started out behind the counter at Firestone Library’s Tiger Tea Room in 2021. This semester, she has moved to Witherspoon Cafe in Frist Campus Center.

She says that it didn’t take long for her to find her role at the University. Through day-to-day interactions with students, she observed three common challenges: loneliness, lack of encouragement, and feelings of unworthiness. 

“Based on these three needs that I found here, I realized that I am able to provide,” González Guerrero said. “All of them are based on love. At the end of the day, they just need love.”

Spreading love is González Guerrero’s specialty. At any given moment, she can be seen striking up a conversation with a new student or catching up with regular customers. Acceptance, she says, is at the core of her mission. 


“I can see the results. I can see how many students feel open to share what they’re going through because I don’t judge them,” González Guerrero said. “They share with me their sadness, their happiness. I just accept them the way they are, and I just love them.”

Noura Shoukfeh ’25 met González Guerrero in the fall of 2023 while ordering at the Tiger Tea Room and began seeing her frequently due to Shoukfeh’s job at the information desk. González Guerrero’s bright red lipstick, warm smile, and sing-songy greetings made her seem approachable, and Shoukfeh decided to strike up a conversation. From there, their relationship blossomed. 

“We talked about things outside of school,” Shoukfeh said. “She’d ask me about my dreams after school, I’d ask her about her passions outside of work.”

Shoukfeh describes González Guerrero as having an incredibly “bright energy,” drawing people in with her openness and enthusiasm. 

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“We get caught up in the day-to-day of life and we don’t really take a minute to stop, think, and talk with others,” Shoukfeh said. “But with her, it’s almost like you’re compelled to do it.”

When Shoukfeh was waiting at a bus stop in Princeton last summer, she ran into González Guerrero and they struck up a conversation. Shoukfeh expressed her worries about living and cooking independently during her internship, and González Guerrero shared a few of her own recipes. Then, the conversation turned to Shoukfeh’s career planning. 

“We talked about my anxieties for the future and what kind of work I want to do. I really liked that she honed in on the fact that I didn't have to know exactly what I was doing,” Shoukfeh said. “She’s like, ‘You need to explore your passions and your interests and you don't have to have everything figured out.’”

“She inspires me to go after what I want and put that faith in myself,” Shoukfeh continued. “And I feel like she’s the best role model to do that because she’s not just preaching it, she’s actually emulating it.”

Shoukfeh currently runs Hidden Chaplains, a program developed by the Office of Religious Life meant to provide a space for students to notice and honor the everyday kindness of University staff members. The program was featured in the New Yorker last year, shortly after González Guerrero received nominations from eight students and was invited to the reception at Murray-Dodge Hall. 

“I was notified that students nominated me for this, and it was an honor, something that encouraged me to keep going,” González Guerrero said. “This is part of how life gives you back what you give. I just come to work everyday and focus on my mission, it’s something personal. You guys are part of my life.”

Hidden Chaplains isn’t the only recognition González Guerrero has received recently. A few days ago, on Mar. 1, she was the featured guest on All-Nighter, Princeton’s student-run late-night talk show. 

Gabby Veciana ’24 is a music director for All-Nighter and had the idea to host González Guerrero on the show after meeting her at a dinner during Hispanic Heritage Month.

“I just thought she was such a light and so insanely kind, and every time I got to see her while she was working was just like the highlight of my day,” Veciana said. “So I just thought it’d be nice to highlight her and the work that she does.”

Thomas Hughes ’24, this year’s host, recalls when her name was suggested as a potential guest during a meeting on Frist’s third floor. 

“Somebody said, ‘What about Mia, who works downstairs?’ and the room erupted,” Hughes said. 

In preparing for the show, Hughes and González Guerrero had planned out a fun bit: they would switch seats, making González Guerrero the host for a night. But before the planned bit, during the show, González Guerrero addressed the audience with a speech about generosity and seizing opportunities. 

“You have in your hands what is needed to change this world. You have intelligence, you have love,” she told students. “Remind yourself to make this world a better place.”

“She gave that incredible speech and got a standing ovation, and it was like ‘There’s no point in transitioning into comedy,’” Hughes said. “It very much transcended any silly comedy that we could do.”

The show’s success speaks for itself. According to Hughes, they sold out for the first time in the history of All-Nighter. Tickets were gone 24 hours in advance, with over 300 guests coming out to watch. 

“It’s not just that people came out to see her, it’s that the people who came out to see her are subjects of her love on campus and the warmth that she brings,” Hughes said. “It was the warmest, loveliest crowd we’ve ever had because they were there to see her.”

The love and learning on campus, González Guerrero asserts, goes both ways. 

“I see all of you and you are just kind,” she said, addressing Princeton students. “I learned from you to keep myself fresh,” she added. “The best way to keep yourself fresh is to be kind. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind. Be kind!”

 Maya Chu is a staff Features writer for the ‘Prince.’

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