Huemanity of People: The Business of People Helping People

TJ Bowie G'19 is channeling his passion to help others by ensuring individuals have opportunities to thrive at Elon and beyond.

TJ Bowie G’19 accepted his first role in the Office of Human Resources about a year ago, but he’s been in the business of helping people a lot longer.

As Elon’s inaugural equal opportunity and human resources compliance manager, he’s primarily responsible for all development and training around equitable employment protocols, including assessing recruiting and hiring practices. “We want to do our best to address bias and create as much of an inclusive and equitable process as possible,” says Bowie, adding that seeing people succeed who weren’t given a chance at first due to bias keeps him going.

It’s something that has motivated him throughout his professional life. When he worked in residence life, developing staff and students from a social justice perspective was his focus. “The common theme throughout my professional trajectory is developing people and the culture they work in,” he says.

Bowie moved frequently as a child but lived in Colorado for most of his upbringing. He spent time living in a non-White majority community in high school, an experience that allowed him to see inequities in action. “I’m not sure we had any conversations about the inequities I noticed,” he says, “and it wasn’t until I reflected on it more as an adult that I could unpack it in my head.”

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Before completing two master’s degrees, he attended a Jesuit institution in Denver. “That’s really where I confronted my whiteness, White privilege and power that I have as a White man,” TJ says. “Since then, it’s been a journey of utilizing that to be a voice and address systems of inequity.”

As an undergraduate, Bowie went to El Salvador as part of a study abroad opportunity, an experience that opened his eyes to even greater disparities. “This was my first time seeing people live in desperate conditions,” he recalls.

That solidified his desire to help members of his community. “It is what sparked that passion in me,” he says. “I chose to build and develop others.”

While working as an assistant director of auxiliary services at Elon, he decided to pursue an MBA at the Love School of Business. After completing that program, Bowie started looking for opportunities to combine his desire and passion for helping people with a position at the institution. He connected with Randy Williams, vice president and associate provost for inclusive excellence, and Kelli Shuman, associate vice president of human resources, and learned about the newly created equal opportunity and human resources manager role, which he now holds.

Bowie is excited to continue his personal and professional development journey. Earlier this year, he was selected to participate in a selective leadership program offered by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. As part of the 12-month program, Bowie will have the opportunity to develop his professional skills through tailored learning experiences including mentorship, learning events and courses.

“It is continual self-development,” he says. “I can’t effectively evaluate our procedures and protocol without knowing who I am, how my identity shows up in a professional setting, and addressing the biases that I have.”

He believes in the institution’s commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable community. The creation of positions dedicated to support more equitable practices, like his own role, are proof of that commitment, he says. “If we can recruit more equity-centered people, the more inclusive we can be as a community.”

Bowie hopes to enhance the experience of others by helping and providing opportunities for individuals to thrive. “I say this often, people helping people is what I do,” he says.

TJ Bowie is part of “Huemanity of People,” a series by the Division of Inclusive Excellence that celebrates the diversity of Elon’s community to uplift the values of inclusion and equity.