Nequel Burwell is a 2006 Person High School grad, but her educational and career pursuits have taken her far beyond the Person County line. After high school, she double majored in Psychology & Communications at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She then moved to Indiana to pursue a Master’s of Education in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education from Ball State University. After completing grad school, Nequel worked at the University of Tennessee in the field of Residential Learning before heading further south to Mississippi where she is currently an employee and doctoral student at Ole Miss. Upon graduating in 2022 she will have a Doctorate of Education in Higher Education. Her story encourages us to explore what the world has to offer.
Q) What was your upbringing like in Person County?
A) I played recreational sports growing up and I did a stint with Girl Scouts. But I was involved mostly with academics and school sports. Outside of school, my time was mostly spent with my family.
Q) What is your career path and what are your proudest achievements?
A) I currently serve as an Assistant Director for Residential Learning at The University of Mississippi in the Department of Student Housing. Essentially, I supervise 3 full-time professional community coordinators in overseeing their residential communities on campus. I wouldn't say I chose a career in Residential Learning; more so it chose me. I was a Resident Assistant at UNCC for two years and during that time I realized how much I enjoyed helping others. As I talked to mentors, I learned that I could get paid to do what I love full time and that meant helping people while working on a college campus.
After my grandfather passed away my senior year it changed my plans for what was next for me. I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do but I knew that working in a human resources department—which my psych degree was prepping me for—was not it. I took a year off after graduation and made the decision to apply to graduate programs. I was accepted into the Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education program at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind. There I accepted a role as an Assistant Residence Hall Director, in which I served for two years. Upon graduating I could have chosen to go into a few areas, but I was good at housing and I liked it.
My transition into the role of a full-time Hall Director at the University of Tennessee was a no brainer. I stayed there for 4 1/2 years and I loved it. Working with college students and watching their journey through college was one of the best parts of that job. And supervising graduate students and helping them through their process was rewarding. I currently aspire to be a Dean of Students so that I can continue serving students and doing what is in their best interest. I am pursuing my Ed.D in Higher Education to help me reach that goal.
Q) What organizations or community endeavors do you participate in?
A) I serve as a Co-Troop Leader for Troop 13617. We currently have 10 active brownies and juniors in our troop. I became a troop leader as a way to give back to the community. At Ball State and UT, I was often so preoccupied with campus life that I never truly took the time to engage in the local community. When I moved to Mississippi, I wanted to change that, so I made a consorted effort to get involved off-campus. As a co-troop leader, I help plan meetings that teach the girls leadership skills, help them become empowered about being women, and teach them life lessons along the way.
I have also been a member of the Oxford Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated for a little under a year. I have joined a few committees and have tried to be an active and engaged member of the organization. I just recently celebrated my first founders' day and I am looking forward to many more in the future.
Q) Why is it important that women be recognized for their foundational work in our community and our nation?
A) Women often find themselves going above and beyond every day giving to others, not taking time for themselves. It is important for them to be recognized so they know people appreciate the work they are doing. It is also important to know you do not have to be a superwoman to do a good job!
Q) What do you envision for the future of Person County?
A) Growth and Inclusion. I hope people in the community can take advantage of opportunities and experiences outside of Person County, that allow them to grow and see the world.
Q) What is your advice for girls and young women who look to you as motivation?
A) Keep pushing forward. Put your mind to it and do it. You are your greatest competition and with a positive attitude and outlook, you can achieve your goals. It won’t always be easy, there will be hills and valleys along the way, but hard work and dedication will get you through it. Victory loves preparation.