Mississippi State University students who frequent the Marketplace at Perry know the sweet, chipper voice of Annie Doss, known to the campus as Ms. Annie, as she greets them on their way in and tells them to have a great day on their way out. Doss is the hostess at the Perry, and she scans in thousands of students every day. To students at MSU, Doss is so much more than a cafeteria hostess; her eager smile and welcoming tone make her more like an old friend.
Doss was raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, where her father is from. Her mother is from Mississippi. Doss grew up with five sisters and three brothers. She will celebrate her 64th birthday in May, sadly without her precious students since the school will be out for the summer.
Leanna Breland, a freshman majoring in secondary education at MSU who frequently goes to Perry, said she always enjoys her interactions with Ms. Annie.
"She always brightens my day," Breland said. "Perry was the first cafeteria I had eaten in on my first day of school and I was very nervous, but she helped calm my nerves and made me feel better."
Besides being a fabulous hostess, Doss is also a mother and a grandmother.
"I had five kids. I had four girls and one boy. My oldest one is 45 or 46, and my youngest daughter is 32," Doss said. "I also have 20 grand babies. My only son had five kids: one boy and four girls just like me."
Doss' kindness and joy are a picture of perseverance. One of her daughters died at the age of four. Since then, she has also lost her mother and one of her aunts. Yet, she still shows up to work every day with a huge smile on her face.
"The Lord is good," Doss said after sharing about the death of her mother.
For fun, Doss enjoys fishing, bowling and tennis. She also helps local churches serve food on Saturdays. Serving is her greatest passion, and her favorite people to help are the students of MSU.
"Let me tell you something," Doss said. "I am also a Christian. The Lord will put you where he wants you to be, and he wanted me to talk to the students and pray for them. 'Cause that's what I do, I pray for y'all."
Samuel Graham is a sophomore mechanical engineering major at MSU who also enjoys going to Perry, but he goes specifically to see his favorite hostess.
"Ms. Annie is one of the only reasons why I go to Perry every day," Graham said. "She never has a bad day. Whenever I see her, it makes my day better."
Doss has worked at MSU for over a decade and has loved every minute of it. Students enjoy seeing her smiling eyes and hearing her words of encouragement throughout the day.
"Mississippi State is a great place to work. I like the people," Doss said. "My supervisors and the people I work with — they're all good. We get along."
Her smiling face is always ready to greet the students walking into Perry, and she never fails to punctuate each scan with a chipper, "Have a nice day!"
Her dedication and passion for her work make her many student's favorite person on campus, including Breland and Graham.
"She makes a point to talk to everyone; she doesn't have favorites. She just talks to everyone as they come in," Breland said.
"She is one of the most joyful people I have ever met," Graham said.
"I just love what I'm doing. Because I love y'all," Doss said. "I would not do this if I did not love y'all. I just feel the Lord has put me here to help. I'm good."
Doss loves the sunshine, and on bright days, her already happy attitude becomes a positively sunny disposition.
"She loves Fridays, too," Breland said, "Anytime you ask her how she is on a Friday, she is always even more excited than she usually is."
Doss credits all her love and joy to the Lord, and she encourages students to love more.
"That's what we need in the world: more love. If we have more love, we're all good. We wouldn't have all the confusion," Doss said.
If anyone needs a reason to smile, the Perry cafeteria may be the place for them. Doss will be ready and waiting to scan you in to eat some fried chicken with open arms and a smile on her face.