What is your name and current title with the University of Montevallo?
My name is Jason Perry and my title is the director of student diversity recruitment and retention.
Where are you from and what city do you currently reside in?
I am from Hoover, Alabama, and I currently reside in Alabaster, Alabama.
If you hold any degrees, what are they in and from what schools?
I hold a BBA from the University of Montevallo in management, and I minored in nonprofit studies. My class year is 2018. I hold my master’s in counseling from UM. My class year is 2020.
How long have you worked here?
I have worked here full-time since 2018. I started working as a student worker in 2016.
Did you hold any previous positions here? If so, what are they?
I previously served as the donor relations manager in the Office of Advancement and Alumni Affairs. I started as an intern with the office in 2016, serving the previous donor relations manager, the annual fund director and the Alumni Affairs staff.
What brought you to Montevallo?
In 2014, I found myself in a transitional period, where as a first-generation student, I was unsure of my worthiness to attend college, and if I did, I did not know how I would navigate the process. Reflecting back now, I am so grateful that I had a wonderful mentor at the Birmingham mayor’s office who not only told me about Montevallo, but walked me through the process of applying and even paid my application fee. I was even more grateful that day that Dr. Kristy Lee picked up the phone and not only assisted me in the transition process but reassured me that I belonged here and that I would have support throughout my experience. Now, to come full circle, I work for Dr. Lee, directing our Minorities Achieving Dreams of Excellence (M.A.D.E.) program, doing for them, what she did for me.
What’s the best thing about working for Montevallo?
The best thing about working for Montevallo is the students. I am inspired by every student that walks through my door. Our students are resilient, unique, tenacious, joyful, driven and much more. I am reminded every day of the importance of my job, and I am rewarded every day by the presence of our students and being given the platform to impact them.
Do you have any interesting stories about one of your favorite experiences here?
For what has been an eventful journey here at UM, from my time as a student to me becoming a staff member and alum, I have a wealth of experiences and stories, both hilarious and impactful. I hope one day I can share more of them, but I want to share what served as a turning point for me in my experience here. During my junior year, I was struggling with a lot of personal challenges that became an additional weight I carried every day, making my usual routine unbearable. I contemplated withdrawing from school and working full-time and began to become more dejected and reserved as a student. A wonderful staff member pulled me to the side and talked to me for hours after noticing I was not myself. That conversation relit my fire and validated that UM and the people that make it special really stood behind the mantra of family. I will forever remember that staff member and that conversation as being the moment my life was forever changed.
What’s your proudest accomplishment since being at UM?
My proudest moment during my experience as a UM staff member is seeing our current and former UM students embrace our (M.A.D.E.) program and affirm the value that it brings to campus. I love to see our students proudly wearing their M.A.D.E. shirts and that our mission and core values as a program align with not only the needs of our students, but their aspirations and goals as well. More importantly, that we have created a space on campus where all minority students feel a sense of community and can be heard, seen and valued for their unique qualities that make our campus shine the brightest it ever has!
Why do you belong at Montevallo?
I belong at Montevallo because Montevallo created a space for me to belong — a space that is conducive for me to be my authentic self and find friends and mentors to enrich my experience. It also was a space where I could grow into the person and professional I aspired to be. I will always believe Montevallo is exactly where I was meant to be, surrounded by the people I was meant to meet.
Anything else you want to say?
Montevallo has always been a special community fostered by people who have nurtured and protected the intrinsic and extrinsic beauty of our campus. What excites me the most about being in this community now, is that we have only begun to scratch the surface of all Montevallo will be and what I know it will do for students across our state and beyond.