Staff Highlight: Jenica Braxton

Jul 14, 2020 10:00 AM

Jenica BraztonFor our staff highlight, we wanted to highlight the work of Ms. Jenica Braxton. Ms. Braxton is an alum of Frostburg State University and currently works with the Office of Civic Engagement at FSU as an AmeriCorps Vista Member while also balancing her work in FSU’s Master of Education – Interdisciplinary Program with a concentration in School Counseling and Educational Leadership. Graduating in December of 2002, Ms. Braxton was a Theatre Major with a focus in Acting and was very involved during her time at FSU, attaining the Office of President of the Lambda Iota Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. while also maintaining positions working with the Office of Greek Life and Leadership as well as with the Cordts P.E. Center as a Lifeguard.

Ms. Braxton currently works with FSU’s Office of Civic Engagement as an AmeriCorps Vista Member, a Federal Program designed to help combat poverty in the nation. Through her role, she works with Allegany County Public Schools and a group of FSU student volunteers to help out with after school programs focusing on civic, college, and career readiness. She is also a Building Manager for the Lane Center and a Supervisor for Student Teachers.

The opportunity to work with students is what brought Ms. Braxton back to FSU in 2019. Being able to interact with the students currently in the Lambda Iota Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. helped her see that the FSU students of today are still facing the same issues she faced in her time at FSU. She feels that students, especially first-generation college students, feel a burden to take everything on themselves and go through their undergraduate experiences alone. She wanted to be there to support all students in their struggles and provide them what she didn’t have during her time at FSU. After being pushed by someone close to her to help to better cope with her own depression during her undergrad, she wanted to be a support system for those who feel isolated and alone in their struggles and to know that they aren’t alone.

In her current role with AmeriCorps, Ms. Braxton would like to ensure that she can build strong connections with undergraduate students and the middle schoolers they work with. She also hopes that the undergrads she works with can gain value from having a civic engagement mindset and that they can also see the value in the work they do and recognize the value in who they are. She would like to lead alongside Allegany Public Schools in ensuring that schools in the system can help to maintain the infrastructure provided by AmeriCorps to continue to help local middle schoolers. In her role supervising student teachers, she hopes to help shape great teachers who will in turn help create great students in the future. As a support system for students, Ms. Braxton wants to continue to create connections with both undergrad and graduate students. She hopes to be able to empower students to be able to communicate and advocate for themselves and learn to be able to have conversations with those who can directly assist them in what they are working on at FSU. Her goal is to be an advocate for equality and balance at the university. “We should all be able to feel like bobcats here, feel like we belong!” she exclaimed.

To help foster and maintain an inclusive community at FSU, Ms. Braxton ensures to talk to any and all students she can at FSU. She provides perspectives and helps to fill gaps in student’s understandings of things so that they can improve on how they approach situations. She loves talking to students and asking them about their perceptions of what is going on campus. She has an open-door policy and ensures to take in any student who needs her help. “If you’re a student, I want to help you.” She said.

Where does she go from here? Ms. Braxton is uncertain of her next step but knows that she has a passion for continuing her career in higher education and more specifically, she wants to continue her career at FSU. Drawing on her teaching experience, she would like to channel that energy into Academic Affairs to ensure that students can be empowered, successful, and have the tools they need to be succeed in the classroom. No matter where she ends up in higher education, she wants to always find ways to stay connected with students.

One quote that Ms. Braxton lives by is “you never know who is watching” which she was always told by her mother when she was growing up. She says that this quote taught her to always present her best self because you never know the experiences of others or how your interactions with them are internalized. Ms. Braxton’s heroes include her mother who worked tirelessly to raise four children by herself and her other heroes are the faculty, staff, and administrators at FSU who have worked and stayed at FSU over the years to stand up and advocate for students who struggle to find a voice of their own regardless how many times they get knocked down.