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Resident advisor advocates for environmental awareness during Tybee Beach cleanup

Michelle Villanueva, a resident advisor of Windward Commons on the #ArmstrongCampus, recently organized a Tybee Beach cleanup event and education session for students within the hall.

Michelle partnered with Fight Dirty Tybee, a community organization that increases awareness about the ongoing environmental problems we face today and the importance of sustainability in our communities. The group organizes the event each Sunday on Tybee Beach, cleaning up trash and sorting recyclables. Participants bonded while learning about the importance of sustainability.

Michelle’s goal is for students of Windward Commons, and throughout the Armstrong Campus of Georgia Southern University, to become more aware and involved in their campus community. Great job, Michelle! #LiveOnGS

For more information on Fight Dirty Tybee, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FightDirtyTybee/.


University Housing earns national, regional recognition from NACURH, SAACURH

Georgia Southern University Housing recently garnered recognition with the Organization of the Month and the Student of the Month regional titles through the Of The Month (OTM) awards with The South Atlantic Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (SAACURH) and the National Organization of the Month title for National Association of College and University Residence Halls (NACURH), Inc. in recent months.

Sponsored by the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH), OTMs are ways to recognize the efforts of students and staff on college campuses within housing departments.

The Organization of the Month and OTMs are given to organizations that actively contribute to the student leadership, recognition or other aspects of residence life during the month of nomination. University Housing earned the award in January 2019 after professional and student staff members worked tirelessly to move 330 students out of a residence hall and into various other complexes in just a few days. Though this was already one of the busiest weeks of the semester, the team managed to accomplish the goal.

“We saw the whole department join forces and become a united team to cover anything and everything that was thrown at us,” said nominator Assistant Director of Residence Education Casey Weaver. “This team truly rose to the occasion. As a member of the leadership team, I can truly say if it had not been for this team’s dedication, passion, willingness to do whatever it takes and commitment to our University, this outcome would have been very different.”

The department earned the regional title for SAACURH in February and went on to earn the NACURH national title this March.

The Student of the Month award is given to a student who has made outstanding contributions to the residence halls through leadership, motivation, programming, volunteering and/or acting as a role model for others during the month of nomination. Nicole Maksym earned the title in November 2018 after she risked her life to save other students from a fire in her residence hall earlier that month. Nicole noticed the fire and put it out with an extinguisher before alerting staff members.

“Nicole acted when she did not have to,” said Colton Goodman, resident director and Maksym’s nominator. “Without out residents working together as a community and caring for their spaces, we would not function.”

A wall mount bearing the signatures of hall facilities staff, resident advisors and other building staff was hung commemorating Maksym’s efforts and care.

“If that fire burned for another 30 seconds, we would have been in a heap of trouble,” said facilities staff member Jeff Joyner.

To learn more about NRHH OTMs, visit https://www.nrhh.nacurh.org/otms.


Women of Aux: Arianna Fournier

If you looked up the word “resilient” in the dictionary, you’d probably find a picture of Watson Hall Resident Advisor (RA) Arianna Fournier.

Arianna has a brittle bone condition known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta. She tells us this is the reason why she is “short and fragile, and in some form of wheels.”

When Arianna was looking at colleges, she imagined it like any other college experience: living on campus, meeting new people and late night study sessions in the library. But when she shared her dreams out loud, someone told her that she should look at smaller schools because it would be “easier for her.” Arianna, unphased by a challenge, didn’t want to be boxed in by one person’s perception of her abilities. A few months later, she declared a major and started her life in Statesboro.

While Arianna couldn’t be deterred from pursuing her education, college life didn’t come without its challenges. Around this time last year, Arianna broke her femur. She recalled the incident as having been scary and hard, but from there she had some really positive changes happen.

“I can 100 percent  say I wouldn’t have been able bounce back it without my friends– everything from getting someone to pick me up off the sidewalk to helping me get to class while I waited for my scooter to come in,” said Arianna. “Without them, I don’t know if I would be where I am, having the impact that I do.”

Not only have Arianna’s friends been an important piece of helping Arianna transition into college life, but Stella Young, a comedian and disability advocate, has also been an inspiration. Arianna appreciates Young’s approach to discussing disabilities because it lightens the mood and releases tension surrounding a typically tense subject. Arianna channels that comedy into sharing her own story.

“She talks about how we often look at those with disabilities doing normal, daily activities as inspirational,” said Arianna. “I promise I don’t want to get out of bed as much as every other college student.”

For Arianna, being an RA gives her the opportunity to guide and encourage freshmen during their first year of college because she’s been there before. She knows what that’s like.

“I absolutely love getting to have a part in helping my residents fulfill all of their potential,” said Arianna. “Working with first-year students, I’m surrounded by the nervous energy and the wide eyes, and it reminds me of how wonderful and scary college is.”

Taking a leap of faith and going against the advice of attending a smaller school, becoming an RA, advocating for those with disabilities and making lifelong friends are gifts she didn’t think she would receive during her time at Georgia Southern.

When she reflects on the last three years Arianna, “doesn’t know if ‘little’ me would believe it.”

Click here to read the full story of Women of Aux in the Aux Now Magazine.

-Emily McLeod

Women of Aux: Telecia Taylor

As Telecia boarded a plane for the very first time, she was wracked with nerves. She had never left Jamaica, and now she was about to fly to America to start a whole new life. As a middle school student, she was anxious and excited for the new adventure. She never knew the accomplishments she would see in the years to come.

Telecia was a good student, and she enjoyed being involved in her Maryland high school. When her senior year arrived, though, she felt extremely unprepared for the college process.

“I had never really thought about college like that,” the first generation student recalled. “My parents hadn’t gone [to college], so they didn’t really know how to tell me to apply or what to do. I just tried to watch what my friends were doing and figure it out.”

She struggled to decipher the nuances of financial aid, housing and registration. But, through trial and error and with the help of her counselors, Telecia was able to navigate the messy terrain of starting college.

Telecia declared a major of interdisciplinary studies with a focus in information systems and psychology, and she really thought she was pursuing the best field for her. It wasn’t until her senior year of college, though, that she realized she wasn’t being fulfilled.

“I remember going to a retreat that fall and hearing the speaker talk about passion- something I thought was pretty generic,” she said. “But then it hit me. I realized how much I loved programming and helping students with their college transition and giving back to students the way student affairs professionals gave back to me in undergrad!”

Following that revelation, Telecia earned her master’s in education and eventually landed her position with University Housing at Georgia Southern in 2016. As the resident director for Eagle Village, Telecia also acts as the coordinator for the Lab Living-Learning Community (LLC) within the hall.

“Those students are my everything,” she said. “Some days it’s challenging, but the little moments remind me why I enjoy doing what I’m doing. I want to help students realize the potential they have. I want to have meaningful conversations with them.”

Telecia’s passion for her work and selfless care for her students earned her the title of the inaugural “Shine Black Girl Shine” staff award from the University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs this year. Her mentorship and guidance shine through in her strong LLC alumni-base who still reach out to her as well as in her praises from her co-workers and supervisors.

“I generally shy away from the spotlight and push others to succeed,” she said, “but I’m so flattered to hear that people recognize my passion. As an immigrant, first-generation college student and woman of color, I take pride in being that representation for students in the hall and strive to mentor my students any chance I get.”   

Click here to read the full story of Women of Aux in the Aux Now Magazine.

-Aubrey T. Hall

Resident Director Telecia Taylor named “Shine, Black Girl, Shine” award recipient

Telicia Taylor, "Shine, Black Girl, Shine" Professional Staff Award winner

STATESBORO, Ga. (Feb. 6, 2019)- This Black History Month, University Housing staff member Telecia Taylor has been named the inaugural recipient of the “Shine, Black Girl, Shine” Professional Staff Member of the Year Award from the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA).

Taylor, a resident director for Eagle Village on the Statesboro Campus, was nominated for the award based on her impact on the University, participation in community service, commitment to student academic success and her dedication to inclusive practices, student advocacy and mentorship.

“I generally shy away from the spotlight and push others to succeed,” she said, “but I’m so flattered to hear that people recognize my passion. As an immigrant, first-generation college student and woman of color, I take pride in being that representation for students in the hall and strive to mentor my students any chance I get.”   

And her dedication to being a role model and advocate for her students does not go unnoticed.

“Not only is she good at her primary responsibilities, but she is also amazing at knowing and supporting Georgia Southern students in a variety of contexts,” said Taylor’s nominator Assistant Director of Residential Learning Erin McFerrin. “From her work with the Lab Living-Learning Community, participating in alternative break events, nominating students of color for professional awards and focusing her RD assessment project on experience of students of color in the residence hall, Telecia has made strong connections with students, faculty and staff all over campus.”

An avid volunteer, Taylor has spent many days off serving on alternative break trips and encouraging her staff to join her for events like Treasure Savannah and the annual Chocolate Run. She sees service opportunities not only as a chance to give back to her community but also to bond with her staff and set a good example for the students she so deeply cares for.

“Those she has mentored have been lucky enough to have someone who is smart, supportive, truthful and caring in their corner- allowing them to reach their potential,” said McFerrin.

Taylor was honored out of a pool of 30 nominations across all three Georgia Southern campuses along with five other women representing categories from Armstrong Campus Student, Liberty Campus Student, Statesboro Campus Student, Faculty, Staff and Alumna.

The idea for the award started when the chairman of the OMA Black Heritage Celebration Month committee, Maurice Nelson, saw the opportunity to recognize an underrepresented subgroup of the black community. Nelson’s team, including University Housing staff member Chemar Johns, worked to establish an award that would ultimately inspire young black women to do great things.

“My hope is that the recipients and participants realize how valued they are as people,” said Nelson. “It is unfortunate that there is such a need to specifically empower any group, but until there is equality, or better yet, equity, across all lines, OMA will work to provide platforms so that underrepresented groups are recognized, empowered and included as important members of our Georgia Southern community.”

The awards were presented at the Black Women Empowerment Awards Show on Saturday, Feb. 2. The award will continue on as an annual tradition at Georgia Southern.