Affectionately known as “Miss Vernell” to most on the High Point University campus, Vernell Fowler has touched a lot of lives during the 23 years she’s worked for Campus Enhancement. She’s seen students come and go; she’s seen new buildings constructed from the ground up; she’s seen the entire campus change.
But one thing has always remained constant since day one: her compassion and love for the students on campus. “I cannot pass you without saying, ‘Hey,’” she says. “I just want to put a smile on your face.”
Interestingly enough, Fowler says when she first began working at HPU in 1989, she was kind of shy. That changed when she started talking with students – she opened up and blossomed. “I think God gave me the heart to do this,” Fowler explains. “I have always been a friendly person, and I just thank Him for it.”
She admits she may not know everyone’s name – in fact, she calls many of them “baby doll” – but they all know that Miss Vernell is there when they need to talk.
“I get so involved with the students,” she says. I cry with them; I pray with them. … I can tell when they’re stressed, or having good and bad days. They’ll come up to me and say, ‘Oh, Miss Vernell, I’ve been up studying all night for an exam. I don’t think I can do this.’ I tell them, ‘It’s going to be OK. You can do it.’”
She truly does make an impact on the lives of students – such as Alexa Crawford, a junior, who says Miss Vernell has been her rock in a lot of ways since she came to HPU.
“I am a firm believer in angels on earth, and Miss Vernell is the epitome of an angel,” Crawford says. “Every morning
she brings pure, authentic joy to those she meets. She is a woman of commitment and service – two traits that I admire. She has become a mentor of mine. She teaches me how to ‘look up’ and to have ‘giving hands’ to all I meet. She notices the small things and she’s always there to help you. I am grateful to call her my friend and family while at the university. She is a consistent reminder of the important aspects of life, and she models them for us each and every day.”
Fowler says she really just enjoys being a part of students’ lives; she loves being invited to their events to watch them shine and flourish in their element.
“You know, I’m motherly and I feel like these are my children in some way,” says Fowler, who has three children of her own. “These students really need encouragement. Everybody needs somebody, and I thank God for putting me here.”