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‘Miss Vernell’ serves encouragement to students daily

11.15.2012

High Point University, Miss Vernelle, Campus Enhancement, Inspiring EnvironmentAffectionately 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.”

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