Restaurant staffer receives matching gift from TJC

A high school senior who received a $1,000 tip from an anonymous guest at the restaurant where she works in Gun Barrel City in April now has a matching award from Tyler Junior College.

Alesha PalmerAlesha Palmer, 18, was visiting with regular guests of Vetoni’s Italian Restaurant, discussing her future plans to attend TJC in the fall, when a guest at another table overheard her talking about how her parents were going to try to help pay her tuition and fees at TJC. When he went to pay his bill, he spoke with the manager and left a $1,000 tip on his credit card.

The story went viral and made national news, including a mention on ABC Television’s Good Morning America.

When TJC learned of Palmer’s college intentions, TJC President Dr. Mike Metke decided he would transfer $1,000 from the President’s Circle fund – a discretionary pool of donations from TJC friends and alumni – to her account when she registers in the fall.

“We felt it was a great story, a nice gesture by the restaurant guest and an investment in the most important resource a small community has, its young people,” said Metke.

Palmer was surprised with a “big check” for $1,000 as she began her shift at the restaurant May 18. The check was presented to her by Dr. Juan Mejia, TJC Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs; and Mitch Andrews, Interim Executive Director of Institutional Advancement and the TJC Foundation. Store managers and employees joined in the celebration.

Palmer says she plans to major in business at TJC, then pursue a career in culinary arts.

Cutline: From left, TJC Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Juan Mejia, mother Jennifer Palmer, Alesha Palmer and Mitch Andrews, Interim Executive Director of Institutional Advancement and the TJC Foundation.

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