A Tale of Endurance

Pandemic, Relationships Shape Student’s Educational Experience

Brandon Ratliff
Coordinator, Student Organizations and Fraternity/Sorority Life
North Carolina Central University
Durham, North Carolina

Department: Interdisciplinary Professions (IDP) — Adult Education, Counselor Education and Library Science

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Brandon Ratliff earned a master’s in adult education with certification in student affairs and college instruction from East Carolina University. Most of his latest educational experience happened during the global pandemic — an experience he says will continue to serve him well.

“As a student-affairs professional, I had a hands-on experience with how the pandemic impacts students as I, too, was being impacted as both student and professional,” he says. “The guidance of my instructors is what assured me that I could endure and succeed. They were loving examples of the things we were learning by assessing our situations, creating dialogue, showing grace and working WITH us.”

He says a self-created cohort of students was also instrumental in his experience.

“These were people that I started the program with or that I met during a few courses,” he says. “We supported each other and became family. We challenged each other to be better.”

Ratliff credits ECU faculty with connecting subject matter to current situations and life — and encouraging him and his fellow students to adapt as they found solutions. He recalls professors who challenged students to look at things from different perspectives.

“Those perspectives,” he says, “expanded my understanding and changed my delivery, programming and overall being.”

His university has recognized his dedication as a student and a citizen. He is a recent recipient of the university Creed Award, an honor bestowed on ECU students, faculty and staff based on integrity, diversity, responsibility and citizenship. Ratliff received the citizenship award.

In addition, he was bestowed with the Keating Award, a recognition for student advocacy.

“It was highlighted by staff and students that my advocacy for students and my overall ideals extend beyond my normal job, but even in my daily life,” he says.