Resident Advisor Honored for Outstanding Peformance
Emory & Henry College senior Chris Poff has received the 2011 Virginia Association of College and University Housing Officers “Outstanding Performance” award. The award is given to one Virginia student each year and is the highest award a student can receive for work in the realm of residence life.
Poff has served as a resident advisor for two years and currently serves as the head resident advisor for Wiley-Jackson Hall, the College’s largest residence hall, which houses both male and female first-year students.
“This means quite a bit to me,” Poff said. “I never intended to receive recognition for my work, but this is a great honor.”
In his position, Poff supervises seven of his peers and fellow resident advisors. He first became interested in working with first-year students after serving as an orientation leader during his sophomore year. Poff says he can relate to the struggles that many first-year students face after moving to a strange place where they may not have many friends or family members nearby.
“I try to share with them how important it is to get involved with a group that interests them on campus,” Poff states.
In the nomination letter for the award, Josh Griffith, area coordinator for the College and Poff’s supervisor, stated that a list of qualifications for the award could appear as a typical nomination letter; however, he noted that what distinguished Poff from his peers could be found in the stories of those he has impacted, particularly those he rescued on April 28, 2011 when an EF3 tornado devastated the College’s neighboring town of Glade Spring.
“I was the area coordinator on campus duty when multiple storm cells passed over our campus,” Griffith recalls. “As the third cell passed and the campus siren sounded, I could see the clouds swirling above us and knew that trouble would follow. An EF3 tornado slipped by our halls and devastated our neighboring town, killing three people and injuring more than fifty others. As I stood in the doorway of the student center and listened to the chaos over the campus police scanner, I watched a vehicle speed across campus into the direction of twisted trees and demolished homes. I knew it was Chris Poff.”
Poff was one of the first responders of the volunteer crew in the area, working around the clock pulling bodies from the rubble. Poff logged nearly 16 hours on that first day of rescue and recovery.
Griffith specifically recalls one question from Poff that epitomizes his unselfish ways. “He was weak with fatigue and shaken by what he had seen, but had only one question after he put away his EMT equipment – ‘How can I help you here?’”
Griffith says he was impressed how Poff never abandoned his commitment to serve his residents, his peers and the professional staff in making sure his community was cared for over those stressful days following the tornado.
“And that’s the type of student we see here at Emory & Henry College,” said Griffith.
Poff also serves as vice-president for the social fraternity Beta Lambda Zeta, vice-president of the Residence Hall Association, and volunteers as an Emergency Medical Technician for the Glade Spring and Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue squad. He is majoring in Mathematics and Physics, and is scheduled to graduate in December of 2012.