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Q&A with Brian Blevins, Coordinator of Off-Campus and Non-Traditional student service

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Brain Belvins

Brian Blevins sitting down for an interview with Anna Pope in his office.

Brian Blevins, advises and provides resources by helping connect students with off-campus housing, adjust to college life and navigate issues students might have. Since last January, he has advised Off-Campus Student Association and the Non-Traditional Student Organization.

Q: How has this year already compared to last (academic) year, when you first started? Has the pandemic changed anything?

A: Not really. It was a basically virtual semester when I was here, and then over the summer it's been pretty quiet around the Union so, I haven't really seen any changes. But within the last couple days, with everything going on, just within these last couple days I have been able to see a shift in community coming back and everything. I’m more or less curious how it will look once we’re back in the swing of things with COVID and the delta variant, and how we as a community decide to, you know, take that on.

Q: Why is it important to do what you do?

A: I think it’s important because there’s more to going to college than just going to your classes you know? We grow so much as individuals outside of the classroom and people, like in my position or in the student volunteer position... they kind of help students navigate their feelings, their thought process to build those leadership skills. So, yes, we may not be teaching students about engineering but there’s so much more than academics that come along with it. Yes, that (academics) is a huge part, but I think it's very important for us to help students grow as individuals.

Q: What challenges do non-traditional students face rather than traditional students?

A: A lot of it is work and family restraints. You’ll see a lot of non-traditional students who have children and so now, they’re having to put school schedules in or daycare and they have jobs so they can pay for school and for their kids. I think time management is, like everyone deals with that, but I feel like it’s on a difficult scale when it comes to non-traditional students. And then, priorities are just different. Like, I was a traditional student going through, and I rushed a fraternity and all that but you know, non-traditional students have different priorities. It’s like, ‘I’m here so I can get a degree - I want to be engaged to campus but it’s going to be at a limited capacity or not (in) that traditional sense.’ 

We have a lot of veteran students. I think the big thing is just learning the non-traditional student story to like, see what obstacles they might be facing cause they are all so unique.