A Fateful Day at Chick-fil-A Led Paul to ‘Amazing Career Path’ and Piedmont
Years before she was named Piedmont University’s new Dean of Students and Director of Residential Living, Dr. Tracey Paul was a student standing in line waiting to order lunch at a Chick-fil-A when her hall director saw her. She asked if Paul wanted to be an RA.
“I said, ‘Sure.’ What’s an RA?”
Now, leading Piedmont’s team of resident assistants will be part of Paul’s role at Piedmont. She comes to Piedmont from Jonesboro, Arkansas, where she was associate director of student life at the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Before that, Paul was the campus life director for Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, and director of residential life at Tougaloo College, also in Jackson. She was the community director and summer conference coordinator for the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and hall director at Hinds Community College and Delta State University, both in Mississippi.
In the early days of her career, Paul indeed was a Residence Hall Association Advisor for Hinds and Delta State. All told she has more than 10 years of residential and student life experience.
“During the interview process, Dr. Paul’s passion, approachability, and commitment to her work was evident,” said Dr. Kim Crawford, vice president for Student Life and Leadership. “I am confident in her ability to lead the department and help ensure student engagement, support, and success continues to remain our priority.”
Paul took on her role at NYIT in November 2020, prime time for Covid, and didn’t meet her co-workers in person until the next spring. She organized orientation for students in all three of the now-familiar pandemic and post-pandemic forms: virtual, hybrid, and in-person.
“I can only imagine how challenging the pandemic was for students across the nation,” Paul said. “Our students have been through a lot. They had to — just like we had to — pivot and adjust. My heart goes out to them, especially those who couldn’t participate in things like prom and commencement ceremonies.”
Paul is the daughter of a teacher and a preacher, and her “amazing career path” really did start that day at Chick-fil-A. RA was a step up from her desk assistant job at the time. She may not have known then what would unfold, but she knows today that her “passion and joy” is doing work that matters to students.
“Of course, their priority is their academics, but if we can add to that and give them a rich on-campus experience, we’ve done our job,” Paul said. “And one beautiful thing that I’ve had the privilege of is still being connected with students from every institution where I’ve worked. It’s really a blessing and an amazing opportunity to serve.”