Merrisa Robinson says goodbye to Paws & Go, hello to new opportunity
Paws & Go will be losing one of its longtime cashiers this weekend when Merrisa Robinson finishes her last shift. More than that, however, many students will be saying goodbye to a friend, confidant and vibrant personality. Robinson has big dreams in mind for the future, including a possible music career, but for the moment she will be trading in her three years in Washington University Dining Services for a job at the local General Motors facility.
“The position is basically assembly-line working…so I’m basically putting together car seats, which is dope ’cause we get paid really well,” Robinson said.
The now 22-year-old Robinson began working at Wash. U. as a cook but soon transferred to the checkout.
“That [first year] was crazy because I met a lot of different students. At first I was quiet, but then I became adapted to the students because it was just like, ‘Oh, you guys are crazy, so I’m crazy, too.’ I was basically getting to know them at first.”
Although she is excited for her new position, Robinson knows she will miss the students she met here.
“I didn’t expect all the things that happened to me here…I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into,” she said. “Good moments were times when students wouldn’t even come in for food. They would come in to literally talk to me. They would sit on the desk, they would, you know, try to do my job or try to like cheer me up at times when I was sad.”
Sophomore Shannon Levin is one of many who appreciate Robinson’s personality.
“Whenever Merrisa [Robinson] was at checkout, I’d expect to have some fun,” Levin said. In one instance, Robinson and a group of students at the Paws & Go checkout played a game of truth or dare.
“My dare was to grab a thing of cereal and loudly pronounce to all of Paws & Go, ‘I freaking love cereal!’” Levin remembered.
It is memories like these, shared by students and co-workers across campus, that will ensure Robinson is missed.
“I wish her the best of luck. You have to do what you have to do. We’ll miss her,” co-worker and fellow cashier Dorothy Chandler said.
Alongside her new job at General Motors, Robinson will also be pursuing her burgeoning music career. She is currently studying at the Ex’treme Institute by Nelly, a St. Louis-area school founded by hip-hop star Nelly, which offers associates degrees and courses in the business and production of music.
Robinson is currently working on her debut album, under the pseudonym “Kray-Ola.”
“It means a box full of life,” Robinson said of the moniker. “I want to release [the album] on my birthday. June 7 is my birthday.”
Robinson writes all of her songs, and she is working with collaborators at both Washington University and the Ex’treme Institute to create an album that is “more realistic than fantasy,” with nods toward older rhythm-and-blues, pop and jazz styles instead of purely modern sounds.
Her musical inspirations range from Musiq Soulchild and Jasmine Sullivan to Michael Jackson and Ne-Yo. But it is Justin Timberlake, Robinson said, who often inspires her most. Referring to Timberlake’s unique blend of classic and modern sounds, Robinson said, “I like musicians that can take something and make it very powerful.”
Music has always been a large part of Robinson’s life. She has been singing since she was 10 and began playing violin in the fourth grade.
“I was always in my room. I never was the girl to go outside. I just stayed in my room and I always worked with music,” Robinson said.
Robinson said her original goal was to become a ghostwriter—someone who writes music but does not receive an explicit songwriting credit—for musical artists. But now Robinson is focused more on developing as a singer and artist in her own right. She wants to ensure that all of her songs will be copy-written, in order to maintain artistic control.
While musical success will always be a goal, Robinson is also looking for more direct ways to engage her love of music and ability to connect with others.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, even when I was little, so, like, that’s still a dream. But maybe like I can combine both and be a music teacher,” she said.
Although she’s leaving campus for now, Robinson promised, “I will always come back when I’m a big star, and I will always give you guys the front-row tickets.”