Meet Janice Ratliff, one of the many great people who make Elon a special place.
By Taylor Sharp ’16
Janice Ratliff will greet you with a handshake but leave you with a hug.
For 33 years, she’s been a pillar of support and guidance for hundreds of Elon students. “I have an impact on students’ lives, and they have an impact on mine,” says Ratliff, who began her career in cooperative education and now serves as program assistant in the Office of Student Health and Wellness, formerly the Office of Student Development. “During Homecoming, my office is just swamped. Former students come and stay at my house.”
Growing up, Ratliff didn’t think a career at Elon was feasible for a young black woman. “I grew up in the Town of Elon,” she recalls. “At the time, the only black people who worked at the university were maintenance men and cooks. I didn’t think I could work at Elon.”
But being one of the first black staff members gave Ratliff the opportunity to be a much-needed source of encouragement for a new generation of integrated students.
“Student life covers all students,” she says. “I advised the black community because there was a need for it. The students, when I first came to Elon, had more need financially, socially than they generally do now.”
Assisting students is no chore for Ratliff. She’ll tell you her friends think she’s crazy when she brags about how she adores her job.
“I love working with students,” Ratliff says. “It keeps my mind young. People who don’t have regular contact with young people think differently about them. They think they’re troublemakers or careless. I know better.”
As the fabric of the university has changed, Ratliff has changed with it to continue offering the best assistance to the student body. With a tendency to form long-lasting friendships, she always tries to find the best way to empower any student who needs it.
“When students say that I had an impact in their lives, that is success,” she says.
‘Campus Uncommons’ appears in every edition of The Magazine of Elon. To see the latest edition of the magazine, click here. What faculty or staff member do you think is uncommon? Send us a suggestion.