This story is featured in the Spring 2019 edition of the HPU Magazine. Discover below how Tyresa Foster, HPU’s director of housing operations and Volunteer Center advisor, helps students find their niche on campus.
Service is a way of life for Tyresa Foster.
At High Point University, she’s one of the friendly staff members ensuring students feel at home on campus. She also advises a group of students who plan volunteer activities that connect HPU to the greater community.
In both of these roles, as director of housing operations and advisor to HPU’s Volunteer Center, Foster shares her giving spirit with others, inspiring students as an example of how one can serve through their work.
Having grown up in Washington, D.C., Foster saw examples of service and civic involvement in the nation’s capital. She became active in the community during college as a member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and continued that commitment as an educator who was named Teacher of the Year and as director of two nonprofit programs supporting children’s literacy and academic success.
“Volunteering my time in the community is important to me, so the fact that I get to work here and give in ways that provide a sense of hope to our local community means a lot.”
This comes across as she works with students through HPU’s Office of Student Life.
“I want every student or family member I interact with to come away from our conversation with the best experience,” she says.
That includes Macketta Johns, a senior from Frederick, Maryland. When Johns was anxious about arranging housing, Foster met with her after hours to calm her nerves and work it out.
“Tyresa is always working so hard. I am forever grateful for her help and positivity no matter how many times I reach out,” Johns says.
Foster takes great care in being transparent with students who are facing challenges. Instead of giving them a “mom lecture,” she helps them plan their next steps.
“We teach students that just because they have made a mistake or something didn’t go as planned, it’s not the end,” says Foster. “There’s a safety net here to help them rebound and succeed.”
She is also advisor for HPU’s student-run Volunteer Center, a hub for service opportunities. The Volunteer Center organizes four blood drives a year, an annual carnival for an elementary school, alternative fall and spring break trips and more. They are a part of the 110,000 hours of service HPU provides annually.
Foster emphasizes that students are the driving force. They do the legwork of planning, securing funds and bringing the events to life.
Mikayla Labbe, a junior from Charleston, South Carolina, met with Foster weekly to plan the carnival for Montlieu Academy of Technology, a time for 200 children to spend at HPU playing carnival games and enjoying snacks with college student volunteers.
“Working so closely with her this year has improved my communication and leadership skills,” says Labbe.
Students also plan alternative break trips through the Volunteer Center, allowing them to give a week of service in the fall and spring to communities abroad. In 2017, Foster went on the trip to Guatemala, where the team helped families install stoves in their homes. They also delivered donations of clothing, shoes, vitamins and other supplies.
“Our students’ hearts are so big,” she says. “I’m amazed how they want to give back.