If you are at all involved with the Office of Military Student Services on campus, you know the name Briana Ford.
But if you are one of those students who have never even heard of that office, you would be surprised to know how much goes on behind the scenes-and how much is accomplished by just one woman.
Ford is the certifying official at Western Carolina University’s Office of Military Student Services. Although her formal duties focus on processing paperwork, it would be easier to say that she basically does a little bit of everything.
If her active military students lose connection to the internet, she helps them get in contact with their professors and resolve the problem. If they have financial aid issues, she knows just who to call.
“At our office, we’re all determined to help our students with any issues at all,” said Ford.
Mostly Ford deals with processing student military benefits, such as tuition assistance, the Montgomery G.I. Bill and the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.
“Sometimes I’m at the financial aid office, saying, ‘Please don’t drop this student! I have his papers,'” Ford remarked. “It’s a long process that goes through a lot of people.”
She also reports graduations and grades at the end of every semester, double-checks that all the accounts are properly credited and attends some of the Student Veteran Association’s meetings.
Last week, she helped host a welcome back cookout for the new and returning students.
“I really love working with my students,” said Ford. “They are such a great bunch.”
Because of all she does for the military students on and off campus, her desk is covered in planners of every size. She usually has around 350 students to look after.
“But, I don’t mind,” she said. “I love the organization and order of this job. I’m good with deadlines.”
Ford actually started working with the Office of Military Student Services as a front desk assistant. When her current position opened, she applied and got the job. In November, she will have worked as the certifying official for two years.
Ford received her undergraduate degrees in English and psychology in December 2009. She attended WCU not only because she loved the atmosphere but also because her husband already had a home in the area.
Ford has two sons as well. The older is in the Air Force, stationed in Italy. The younger is a freshman at Haywood Community College.
In her spare time, Ford loves to read. An English major at heart, she cannot help herself from analyzing everything she reads, even when she does not want to.
“Those literature classes ruined me,” Ford joked. “But, I’ll always love to read.”
Currently, Ford is pursuing her master’s in library science at East Carolina University.
Her biggest advice to students on campus is, “Please don’t hesitate to contact our office. If you have any questions, or if you think you qualify for assistance because of your parents’ military service, we will be happy to help. Or if you just don’t know who to call, we can refer you to other departments and organizations.”
She means that, too. Ford’s personal motto is “dream for the impossible.” Although everyone makes mistakes sometimes, it seems that she and the other office workers have done a tremendous job. In their last audit, they had only one mistake reported.
If you would like to reach Briana Ford, or if you just want to play with the Legos she keeps on her counter, visit her at the Office of Military Student Services in the Cordelia Camp Building, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also search the Office of Military Student Services webpage for more information at http://www.wcu.edu/academics/edoutreach/military-student-services.