JCSU Admissions Counselor Ryan Thurman Wins HBCU Recruiter of the Year

Ryan Thurman Recruiter of the Year

Ryan Thurman at College Fair
Ryan Thurman has been a freshman admission counselor at JCSU for nearly two years.

Charlotte, N.C./June 25, 2024 – Ryan Thurman began his higher-education career at Johnson C. Smith University less than two years ago. Since then, he’s made an unforgettable impression on any student he meets.

This Summer, the admissions counselor was named the Recruiter of the Year by the National College Resources Foundation (NCRF) and the Black College Expo.

“Winning this award helped me feel fulfilled and honored just to know that my hard work wasn’t going unnoticed,” Thurman said. “

“Mr. Thurman’s energy and zeal for the important work of empowering, engaging and transforming students is evident and appreciated,” added Dr. Davida L. Haywood, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management. “We are extremely proud of him and the recognition he has received from the Black College Expo.”

After starting at JCSU, Thurman began working with the NCRF. In January 2023, he went on a recruiting trip with the foundation to California, where he not only represented JCSU but also hosted after-shows following NCRF events and college fairs. 

The NCRF hosts the Black College Expo to connect students with HBCUs and minority-serving institutions. Thanks to his partnership with the foundation, Thurman was able to bring the Black College Expo to JCSU’s campus in March 2024.

Thurman says he is grateful to Dr. Theresa Price, the founder and CEO of NCRF, because she partnered with him and allowed him to use his infectious spirit to further connect with college-bound students.
The partnership started with Thurman’s willingness to show up and go the extra mile. Oftentimes, Thurman would be the only college recruiter left at a fair when some potential students would arrive late. He credits his own collegiate experiences at two HBCUs for his passion for higher education.

“My HBCU experience led me to where I am now,” said Thurman, who earned his undergraduate degree at Fort Valley State University (Georgia) and a master’s degree from North Carolina A&T. “All of my opportunities in higher education motivate me now in my postgraduate life to encourage and motivate students to go to college and be at an HBCU that will offer them opportunities they couldn’t get elsewhere.”

Ryan Thurman with his Award

Admissions counselors work nontraditional hours and wear many hats to help students get enrolled, placed in a residence hall and ready to learn. They also always wear a smile and do all that they can to assist the people they serve.

Thurman says the award is a true testament to a successful work-life balance. He says it is easy to feel like you’re always at work, but utilizing the four or five hours after work to reach personal goals is important. For Thurman, that looks like networking events or workout classes that help him build his personal brand and his health.

Although the job may be tough, Thurman truly loves the experience of watching students come to JCSU and grow.

“Some of my best memories so far are connecting with students, seeing students graduate and witnessing them going through that transitional period as a college student,” he said. “I also love to see families come together and be happy that their student made it to college, period.”

Thurman credits Tarji Caldwell, director of admissions, and Kayla Ratliff, a long-serving admissions counselor who helped Thurman in his journey to accepting the admissions counselor position at JCSU.
He says that teamwork leads to success and thanked his colleagues in the Office of Admissions for always supporting him.

He also thanked his family, including Bridgette Dixon, Eugene and Betty Dixon and his little sister, Raven. 

“They’ve been my main tribe for my entire life,” he said. “They’ve always supported my decisions and have always been there for me.”

Thurman said if he could give students one piece of advice, it would be to invest in their future.

“An HBCU gave me so many opportunities and experiences,” he said. “JCSU is providing similar opportunities for students who are just like me.”


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