Virginia Wesleyan University was able to welcome three new members to the Residence Life team this spring. A large welcome is extended to Brandon Foster, Jalen Anderson and Anitra Howard for making our VWU community a part of their story.
Brandon Foster is a former Marlin. Graduating in Spring 2019 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work, he went on to also graduate from a Master’s program at Smith College for social work in August 2021.
Foster is now the village coordinator for Allen and Bray Village. He describes his role as overseeing and making sure student resident assistants are on top of responsibilities, ensuring that conditions in the halls themselves are good and being the person who he said “represents the office of Residence Life” directly on campus.
Considering this, Foster’s role goes beyond technical tasks. He sees his position as also doing whatever he can to give back to the community, whether that be responding to emergencies as a genuine advocate or seeing day-to-day occurrences as formative.
“I want to be a vital part of [the students’] success in college,” Foster said.
In regards to how COVID-19 has affected his position and the VWU community as a whole, Foster acknowledged that it “has challenged us to find out how we can overcome these barriers,” but that it has also allowed for a lot of creativity and flexibility.
To add to this, he thanks the students for being a huge part in allowing for opportunities to still be implemented on campus.
“Students are doing an excellent job in caring for each other right now,” Foster said.
In conjunction with his role as village coordinator, Foster also helps out at the counseling center and is a member of the Student Health COVID-19 Safe team. Having these additional roles he says, “gives me a great pulse on the college environment. I feel really connected to the students.”
In essence, for Foster, it always comes back to how there is so much opportunity. The friendliness and community of the campus is inviting, and in an effort to continue that opportunity, he states that he is “always open to everyone in the campus community.”
Jalen Anderson is a graduate of Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He ended up finding out about the position here at VWU through a website that lists positions at higher education institutions.
As the Village Coordinator for Brock and Honors Village, he has the same technical responsibilities that Foster does. He similarly compliments the space for growth he’s seen at VWU. Given the fact that “the opportunity to build community here is great,” Anderson has been motivated to help out students in realizing what the school and its area have a lot to offer.
Having “already met some great faculty and some absolutely amazing students” in the month he’s been here, Anderson emphasizes the importance of being intentional about pursuing personal bonds with both residents and coworkers alike. He is eager to continue becoming a part of the VWU community.
Anitra Howard is also a former Marlin. Receiving her Political Science Degree in December 2021, she accepted a position here at VWU primarily as a Welcome Center Coordinator for Enrollment but also as a side village assistant position with Residence Life.
Since this role is not the same as a village coordinator, Howard mainly assists student resident assistants if they need help and interacts with the coordinators at weekly meetings. She also serves as an extra back-up for any situation or response that would require it.
Her previous background with the VWU community has helped shape her perspective on the professional roles she holds today on campus and contributed to her own efforts in making the campus supportive.
“It’s really nice to be among a community of people who feel like family,” Howard said.
Similar to Foster and Anderson, she recognizes the opportunities that VWU offers to its students and alumni. Granted that “our campus is always able to adapt to new situations,” Howard appreciates the intent the university puts towards encouraging students and employees alike to explore and engage in different opportunities.
Opportunity and community are all recurring themes in this group’s goals and experiences. You’ll never know what the campus can offer you if you never utilize the services provided by these on-campus advocates and many more. In the words of Anderson, “Just enjoy the journey called college and dive head-first into the shallow end.”
By Phoebe Cox