Leading with a Smile: Meet Chemeka Daughtdrill

After 25 years of working for Vanderbilt’s post office, mail clerk Chemeka Daughtdrill has garnered a reputation for contagious positivity.


Emily Gonçalves

Long-time Vanderbilt employee Chemeka Daughtdrill has earned her reputation as a smiling face in a crowded mailroom.

Andrei Olaru, Staff Writer

A month into the new decade, we’ve already encountered our fair share of challenges. Political instability, booming student debt, unrelenting climate change and the coronavirus outbreak dominate daily news notifications. It’s in trying times like these that we should turn to the shining example of Vanderbilt’s happiest mail clerk: Chemeka Daughtdrill. 

You may not recognize the name, but you’ve almost definitely interacted with her in the past. Next time you pick up a package, just look up — she’ll probably be standing behind the counter, flashing a genuine smile as she greets you. 

Daughtdrill ranks among Vanderbilt’s greatest unsung heroes, and her superpower is an absolutely contagious positivity. After 25 years of working at the Sarratt Post Office, her outlook on her work is upbeat and pragmatic. 

“I like it here. This job makes me happy, seeing students come in and grab their things. I provide good service,” Daughtdrill said. 

Daughtdrill has been a long time Nashville resident, working at a number of restaurants and shops in West End and attending Nashville Tech before deciding to settle on a full-time job at Vanderbilt’s post office. 

In the time she has worked for Vanderbilt, Daughtdrill has often connected meaningfully with students. She recalls fondly the friends she’s comforted after stressful exams or tiring days. One particular student, after graduating in 2017, still sends Chemeka periodic life updates via email. 

In her personal life, Daughtdrill fosters a passion for teaching. She has worked at a daycare and currently enjoys teaching her three- and five-year-old nephews how to read and write.

“I babysit them every other weekend. So while they’re with me I have different preschool guides that show them how to do mathematics and different things like that,” Daughtdrill said.

Regarding considerations for the future, Daughtdrill has not ruled out further developing her career. She received an MBA from night school in 2009 and believes she could pursue any number of jobs with her level of education.

Whatever the future holds — a career in teaching or staying at the post office — we can be sure that Daughtdrill will lead with a laugh and smile. 

“The eyes are the window to the soul, but the smile is the pathway to the heart,” Daughtdrill said.