If you asked Lauren Brooks and Jim Barron what to expect on their day-to-day work schedule, they probably would laugh and say, “Everything.”
But that’s just what a day in the life of a housing attendant can be. Brooks and Barron are partners within Residential Services, having worked together for nearly two years. Their dynamic is what makes them champions at the University. They have each other’s backs, can finish each other’s sentences and share a sense of humor that cannot be tamed.
“I would say that our sense of humor is really the key to our relationship and how we work together,” Barron said. “We don’t always have good days but I think the ability to laugh at ourselves is truly the foundation that we build our friendship and work relationship.”
“Housing is more than just where you are laying your head every night.”
Brooks and Barron oversee on-campus housing, including roommate assignments, logistical support and problem-solving. Their department’s schedule is cyclical, per Brooks, with each month filled with to-dos like helping students cope with housing changes, roommate swaps, easing parent concerns and more. Add in an unexpected pandemic, and all those cyclical plans went out the window.
“The hardest part was making room for COVID housing last year, because logistically everything had to change,” Brooks said. “We did the best we could, and I’m proud of how we’ve adapted to everything.”
The pair were floored when they were nominated by Dr. Matt Kerch, executive director of housing. Brooks said it’s an honor to be recognized for the department’s work and even more happy to know she’s sharing the honor with Barron. For Barron, it meant that the work they do behind the scenes is appreciated.
There are more than 8,000 on-campus beds for students, with another 800 beds available at off-campus partnered housing. The pair works to provide inclusive and safe housing with departments across campus, including the Office of Disability Services, Adapted Athletics and Bama Dining. For Barron and Brooks, that’s their favorite part of the job, working with others to help them feel at home on campus.
Looking forward, the pair is excited for the completion of the new Tutwiler dormitory, which is set to be finished before the next academic year. Once that project is completed, the pair is hoping to continue creating a welcoming and inclusive environment and growing the Living Learning Community projects that are already in place.
“Housing is more than just where you are laying your head every night,” Brooks said. “It is the opportunity to make someone feel like they’re at home even when they are away from home. It’s important to everything our students do, from their academics to their social life. That’s what keeps us going.”
“Agreed,” said Barron.
About Everyday Champions
UA is home to champions both on and off the field and in and out of the classroom. Everyday Champions are staff and faculty members who work behind the scenes to keep the campus running, show enthusiasm for supporting the UA campus, faculty, staff and students and embody the UA spirit of pride, determination and ingenuity. Submit an Everyday Champion you know to be considered for a feature.
Caroline Gazzara-McKenzie, UA Strategic Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org