Volume 77 | Issue 1
January 2009

Pro-file: TJ Willis, North Carolina State University

Name: TJ Willis
Assistant Director, Campus Activities
Talley Student Center
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, N.C.
Years in the profession:

First job: Making and delivering pizza
Guilty indulgence: Naps—I love them!
Biggest challenge: Marriage. It is great, and I wouldn’t trade it, but is the most challenging thing I have ever done.
Retirement dream: Living on a farm
Proudest moment: Graduating from college

Q. What is your primary responsibility?
A. I get to work with an ever-changing, amazing group of students in the Union Activities Board. Additionally, I have a great staff that I supervise who keep me on my toes. I tell people I am a generalist who specializes in program planning, while trying to help my students and staff learn those skills and how to transfer those skills to other areas of life.

Q. What would your staff, colleagues, or students say about you?
A. They would probably say I like to have fun, always have candy, can take a practical joke or two, but also genuinely love what I do. I would hope that they say I am supportive, that I challenge them and make their experience/life more enjoyable and rewarding.

Q. What’s one innovation or project of which you’re proud to have helped implement?
A. I really enjoyed revamping the curriculum for a course I taught with a colleague from the Career Center while at the University of Arizona. The course was a prep class for the “real world” and focused on job searching and keeping the job as well as skills needed like budgeting, investing and networking. It was a lot of fun and a great way to share knowledge I wish I would have received leaving college.

Q. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while working in the profession?
A. Take time for yourself and home life, even if that is just you and your cat/dog/fish. I feel that I have been fortunate to work at institutions that have supported this, but it was a hard lesson to learn as an eager new professional. Balance is a key factor to success and sanity!

Q. What is one phrase to live by or bit of advice you might have for future generations of union professionals?
A. Ask questions early and often! There are many times I should have asked questions and didn’t. Some are silly—like “What is the volume (quantity) of 10 pounds of popped popcorn?”—and others are regarding serious issues. Asking questions is a great way to learn, show you are interested, and clear up any confusion. Oh yeah, 10 pounds of popped popcorn is two very large trash bags full—way more than I needed!

Q. Is there anything else you would like ACUI members to know about you?
A. I am fortunate to have great friends and a supportive family, which consists of my amazing wife and energetic cat. I will most likely try anything once. I love food, country music, and working outside in the yard. I am currently working on my doctorate, which is a challenge in balancing work, home life, and school, but is very rewarding. I am extremely thankful for each and every person I have met through ACUI and especially those who have knowingly or unknowingly helped to shape me as a professional.