By JONATHAN GIBSON, Ranger Reporter:
Amber Brookshire recently found herself back where she started as a student at Amarillo College – in the basement of the College Union Building. Brookshire just started her new job as AC’s director of student life.
Brookshire started working at AC in September 2007 as a recruitment coordinator and continued in that position until January 2014 when she became director of testing services. This summer, she took over the position of director of student life when the former director married and moved to Tennessee to become the executive vice president of the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities.
When she departed, former Director of Student Life Heather Lambert (formerly Heather Atchley) was incredibly excited to have Brookshire as her replacement. Lambert and Brookshire have known one another and have worked together for almost 20 years.
Brookshire said she is excited about her new position and the future of the AC Student Life department. When asked what student life does, Brookshire said, “Students come to Amarillo College to have learning experiences.” She explained, “That happens inside the classroom and outside the classroom. We’re the outside the classroom piece of that puzzle.”
The Student Life department has a large presence on campus, but many students are unsure of what exactly they do. “We provide activities, but they’re supposed to be activities that provide engagement and have an impactful meaning behind them,” Brookshire said.
“Intramural sports and New Student Orientation fall under this department, and we also do a lot of leadership activities to really help students become the leaders we know they can be. That’s a lot of work for one department. Some people think we’re just giving away T-shirts and free food all the time, but there’s a lot more meaning behind it.”
Barbra Walker, a mass media major and SGA secretary, said she is excited about Brookshire’s new position. “I love her. I was a little nervous, ‘cause I had gotten really close with Heather [Lambert], but I just really like her and I think she’s going to be really amazing. She loves us, she loves what she does.”
And it’s true; Brookshire really does love what she does. “This position is truly my passion, and I say that honestly,” said Brookshire, “I wish you could feel the happiness in my heart with this position, because it has the ability to really change lives. And the relationships that I get to build are what it’s all about, and that just means the world to me. I love it. I don’t see [this position] as a position, this is who I am. I don’t leave here at 5:00 and I’m no longer the director of student life; I’m always the student advocate. It’s not just a job, this position is truly a way of life for me. This is who I am, and I hope as students get to know me they’ll see that.”
Having worked closely with AC’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter, Brookshire has accumulated a lot of knowledge about working with students. “I’ve had a lot of experience with students, and what I’ve seen is that they come here and they discover their voice… who they are… and it becomes a transformational experience – it’s not transactional anymore.”
Brookshire has a clear sense of her goals for her students, “I hope they leave here saying ‘I know who I am.’ There’s this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘The only person you’re destined to become is the person you decide to be’, and I think [students] start to discover who they can be while they’re here.”
Correction: The print edition of this issue incorrectly named April Sessler as “Amber Sessler” in the photo caption. The Ranger regrets this mistake.