Buckhannon’s own Johnnie-Jo Hovis, a senior at West Virginia Wesleyan, has remained busy throughout her time at college. A first-generation college student, Hovis has pursued all avenues for campus involvement with zest, being not only a student ambassador for the college, but also serving as a resident assistant and the president of Bobcat Entertainment. Both of these experiences, she said, helped her grow into a better leader. “Being a Student Ambassador allowed me to share my experiences with others. I was able to influence others through means of talking about the school and my personal experience. Wesleyan has given me the world, but it also brought me home: something that I share on my tours. And serving as a resident assistant has had its moments. I loved being a guide to freshmen and a friend to upperclassmen. I enjoyed my role among the Campus Life staff community and have developed new friendships, met many new people, and had the ability to further my personal development through professional development workshops and leadership opportunities.”
Hovis cites being the President of Bobcat Entertainment was the first organization to capture her attention. “Before even officially committing to Wesleyan, I decided that if I attended here, I would have to be a part of this organization. In my last two years, I have been the active president of Bobcat Entertainment, working with event staff to bring a new reward system to BE members for all the hard work they put into at weekly events. This position allowed me to further develop as a leader, and I feel that I have been successful in this role at Wesleyan.”
A business major and education minor, Hovis has built her leadership skills in countless ways. Hovis is a Wesleyan Service Scholar, as well as a Gold Level member of the LEAP Program, and she upholds both as beneficial to her growth as a leader: “Being a Wesleyan Service Scholar provided me with the opportunity to be involved in the lives of many students at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. I work mostly in English, reading, and advisory classrooms where a large group of the students are categorized as special education students. I have an opportunity to model the way for these students, and I have inspired a few students in the classroom to be the best that they can be. As I am an education minor, I have been able to take all of the information I have learned at Wesleyan and apply it in the classroom. I have been able to adapt to different teaching styles to help these students learn based on their personal learning styles. This process has helped me in my ability to be comfortable in front of the classroom as a speaker, role model, and teacher.”
In particular, the LEAP program offered her new challenges to overcome. “LEAP has challenged me to model the way, be a leader, see how others lead, and overall develop my personal leadership strengths. With this program, I have learned different leadership theories, how to respond as a leader, and how to influence my followers.” Additionally, Hovis is a member of The National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS).
On the topic of why she chose Wesleyan, she shared, “I am going to be completely honest here. Wesleyan was not my first choice, but it was in my top three. When it came time to choose, I chose WV Wesleyan, and that was the hardest decision I ever made but also the best decision. I am from Buckhannon, so I knew WV Wesleyan fairly well. But I found my home here when I walked across campus for probably the hundredth time and stopped to look at what was offered to me.” The caring faculty and staff, as well as the whole community created at Wesleyan, Hovis explained, made her choice worthwhile. “I liked the feel of being in a small school and having one-on-one personal connections with professors. When multiple organizations started reaching out to me, that’s what finally pulled me in. Someone was interested in me for me, not because I was simply a ratio, and that had a lot of value for me as a first-generation college student. I could tell from that point on that Wesleyan cared about me and truly valued me.”
After graduation, she plans to take a break from school and start working to save money. “I have been in school all of my life, and I want to take a break from it for a while. I plan to go back to school later to earn a master’s degree, probably through an online program. I would also become certified to substitute teach in the Upshur County Schools in the near future. I don’t know for sure what the future holds, none of us really do, but whatever it is will be alright. God knows what he is doing and he has a beautiful plan for me.”
Her parting words were these: “My ultimate goal in life is to be happy and to ensure those around me are happy too. There is way too much negativity, jealousy and greed in the world, and we all need to be a little nicer, kinder, and humbler. This world was made for you and me, and there is no sense in arguing over things that don’t matter. We should all respect each other, so be happy, be humble, be kind, be you.”
Story written by Ali Householder, sophomore intern at West Virginia Wesleyan College.