Students express appreciation for retired Lion Traxx driver

Mr. Keith Kennedy retires from the Lion Traxx but hands out candy canes on his runs beforehand

Retired Lion Traxx driver Keith Kennedy shares holiday spirit by handing out candy canes to students and
wearing a Santa hat during finals week.
Courtesy of Branden Summers

Many students who have gone in and out of Southeastern over the past few years have named many great and memorable experiences they had while on campus, which includes riding the Lion Traxx Shuttle Service. The short bus ride, which can take you to different points around campus, was made popular with the help of beloved bus driver, Keith Kennedy who recently retired after over 20 years of service at the university.

“[Along with] tailgating in Friendship Circle, laughing with sisters at the Theta Phi Alpha house and spending countless hours in the library studying, riding the Traxx with Mr. Keith is one of my fondest experiences from college,” said alumnus Janel Page.

Kennedy made an effort to talk to students as he drove them around campus, which resulted in a large number of responses to the news of Kennedy’s retirement. After a post on Facebook about the news, hundreds of students shared the post, liked and commented on it. 

“It was extremely emotional,” said Kennedy after he read the many Facebook responses to him retiring. “It makes you feel good. It really touches your heart. And my desire was to affect the students in a positive way, and I feel like God has allowed me to be able to hear that. To see the comments from all the students and how they feel [lets] me know that I accomplished what I hoped to accomplish.”

Kennedy accredited his faith and personality to the purpose he had in being present with everybody who stepped on his bus. He hoped that he could be a friendly face for new students on campus and make everyone feel at home. 

“Getting on the Lion Traxx every morning to have Mr. Keith greet me with a smile and ‘Good morning’ surely made being away from home even easier,” said alumnus Heather Termini. “It was just like having my parents send me off for a day at school. Even when I was having a rough morning or stressed out because I was running late, Mr. Keith always made me feel better with his friendly ‘Hello.’”

Kennedy began conversations with many students as he drove around all day, getting to know their story and sharing something from his day.

“He was so personal, happy and kind,” said alumnus Juliane King. “We could talk about anything: life, family, school, work, the past, the present and the future. I enjoyed talking with him. And I enjoyed listening to his stories.”

Although he drove the same route everyday, Kennedy was able to make the experience great.

“It was interesting,” said Kennedy. “It wasn’t boring. I thought when I came over there that going around campus all day would be boring. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was anything but boring. You go around the same route all day, but getting to talk to all the students, getting to tell them good morning and good afternoon when they come on the bus, it was fun. It turned into something I just loved doing.”

Aside from conversing with students, Kennedy found fun and exciting ways to make students’ Christmas and finals week better. During the fall semester finals week each year, Kennedy wore a Santa hat, displayed a fireplace on the shuttle television and passed out candy canes to students as they boarded the bus. 

“Every fall semester the silver lining to finals week was seeing Mr. Keith in his Santa hat passing out candy canes with a faux fireplace on the TV display,” said Page. “The fact that he took the effort to try to bring everyone some Christmas cheer during what is a pretty miserable week for most people just speaks to the kind of person he is.”

Kennedy is planning on spending much of his retirement traveling with his wife. After meeting many students from Nepal, Kennedy hopes to travel there and see the country he has heard so much about. 

Kennedy expressed that his decision to retire was a difficult one, but he feels confirmed that he made the right decision as he moves on to the next chapter of his life. 

“I don’t even know how to put it into words how much I enjoyed working with the students and what it means to me,” said Kennedy. “The people I worked with at The Lion Traxx are amazing. It’s been a good ride. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m going to really miss it. I want students to know how much of a pleasure it’s been to work with them.”