John Brown University welcomed 21 new members to its student development staff, faculty, and admissions and financial aid staff. All of these individuals have stepped up, not only serving the needs of JBU itself but navigating the new obstacles from the pandemic.
One of the newest members of the student development staff is Emily Anderson, the resident director of Mayfield Hall. Anderson, a resident of Siloam Springs, is responsible for managing and directing the student staff, along with facilitating growth and development in her residents.
“I am a person who enjoys deeper conversations, and so coming in and not really knowing any of my residents is like, ‘There are 200 [students] that I need to meet,’’ Anderson said.
Anderson illustrated admiration and appreciation for the student resident assistants. “I mean, as students, undertaking being an RA at this time is hard for them too,” Anderson said. “They just clearly have hearts for their residents, and I’ve just been super impressed with the initiative that they’ve taken to get to know people. And they’ve been super welcoming to me, which has been great.”
Anderson’s greatest obstacle is meeting residents. Anderson states that she feels pressure to incessantly introduce herself to residents, and with masks cloaking each student, she is faced with quite the daunting task. “I think we all want to be known and want to get to know one another. There are just barriers towards how easy that is.” She continued, “I am planning on making rounds once a week in the evening, so that’ll be a little more initiative in the way of knocking on people’s doors and getting to know them.”
New financial aid staff member Daniel George is serving as the admissions counselor for students from Kansas, Colorado, the Western U.S. as well as transfers from Northwest Arkansas. George graduated from JBU with an undergraduate degree in ministry.
In both his experience as a counselor and as a student, George has acknowledged the community of JBU as his favorite aspect. “I feel like I work at a school that sells itself. All it takes is really bringing people on campus and having them meet the professors, and it makes sense why we have the students we do,” George said.
George, alongside the other admissions counselors, has worked tirelessly to seek creative solutions for reaching the class of 2021. “We’re still continuing to do in person visits in the fall, but we also understand that there are some families where it doesn’t feel realistic or comfortable to be in person … For families where a visit isn’t realistic, we have opened the opportunity to do virtual livestream visits,” George said.
Steven Hamilton is serving as the new choral director. Hamilton graduated from JBU with an undergraduate degree in music education and went on to receive a master’s degree in choral conducting from the University of British Columbia. The cathedral choir Hamilton knew in his time at JBU has been taking an entirely new shape as a result of COVID-19. “Some of the things we’re doing for choir are restricted in terms of how many people we can have in a room at once. We are following guidelines from all the best research in the field in terms of mitigating risks and ensemble rehearsals,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton has boldly endeavored to preserve the choir due to its importance and impact. “I would really love the choir to come out of this year even stronger than ever,” Hamilton said. “We don’t do easy things because they’re easy, we do things because they’re worth doing, and I really believe that choral music is worth doing.”