Assistant student life director revitalizes student events, increases engagement

Published on: February 26, 2024
Jarian Johnson poses with Emmanuel Idowu, vice president of the Student Government Association. Johnson is also the staff leader of SGA.
Jarian Johnson poses with Emmanuel Idowu, vice president of the Student Government Association. Johnson is also the staff leader of SGA.


Ten months ago, the Student Life department at Guilford Technical Community College welcomed Jarian Johnson into the assistant director role, and the college hasn’t been the same since.

In his role, Johnson is responsible for engaging GTCC students in events, from donut eating contests, to informative panels with local Black business owners, to making Valentine’s Day cards for elderly patients in nursing homes.

“In my last role as a fitness and wellness coordinator for another college, I was limited to only doing activities for fitness and wellness, and in this role, I’m able to do all types of events,” said Johnson. “Big, small, for everyone. For the people.”

Berrilyn Cross, director of student life and GTCC employee of 26 years, praises Johnson for his efforts to engage the students on all the campuses.

“Jarian’s an excellent fit for this role because he’s not afraid to attempt to do it all. He doesn’t mind going to our branch campuses, and he’s starting to understand the different populations on each campus, which is something that could take people years to do,” explained Cross. “He’s quick to learn and is able to make our events cater to the different student populations.”

In 26 years, Cross has seen multiple people come and go from Student Life, but Johnson has stuck out to her for his positive energy and presence.

“Everybody that has been in this position brings their own spin to it. They bring their own strengths, and Jarian’s strength is that he doesn’t mind getting out there and doing the work,” said Cross. “Jarian has a way about him that makes people open up and put themselves out there.”

Johnson’s positivity and outgoing personality has influenced students as well. Bilal Yimam has been a student at GTCC for three years, and claims that Johnson completely turned student life around in the short time he’s seen Johnson in his role.

The first time they met, Yimam could tell that Johnson was going to be a major success in his position. Yimam says that Johnson is the reason he now attends student life events.

“With Jarian, he tries to befriend you,” said Yimam. “He actually comes to events other than his own, like basketball games, which means a lot to me and the players. To know someone is consistently trying to support you, it means a lot.”

Johnson certainly has passion for creating events that students genuinely want to attend. Since joining the GTCC team, Johnson has completely revitalized Titan Tuesdays on the Jamestown campus, and is now working to establish Titan Wednesdays in High Point, and Titan Thursdays in Greensboro.

These events are student-focused and include different activities, games, snacks, and themes. Johnson also partners with other college departments, such as Titan Link and the Counseling Center, to encourage students to make use of all available resources at GTCC.

“When I came in my first day and saw a Titan Tuesday event, I saw the looks on the faces of the student government association members, and they looked so displeased with the lack of engagement from the student body,” explained Johnson. “I said to myself that I would completely turn Titan Tuesday around, so they don’t look like that anymore. I want to make sure every event would be extremely fun.”

Nowadays, students attending Titan Tuesdays can expect fun activities, snacks and treats, engagement, and opportunities to meet other students.

As he approaches his 1-year mark, Johnson has plans for his department.

“I want students to naturally know that we are going to have these events. I don’t want them seeing the events as new things anymore. I want it to be so frequent that students always feel welcome, and that more students step out of their shells to join and participate,” Johnson said. “I just want more interaction and more engagement.”

“I can say thank you to Jarian for giving it his all and doing his best every day,” said Yimam. “I see it, and I know other students do, too.”

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