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Leading by Example

Jordan Kelber at 2019 Wolfies

Learning the importance of physical activity came to Jordan Kelber ’19 at an early age. Starting when he was 7 years old, he began to swim competitively. To him, participating in sports was a way to instill core values such as the importance of being part of a team. 

When he arrived at NC State, Kelber, a sports management major, found his community with the swim club, but soon realized that he wanted to go in a different direction, opting for a less structured experience.

Following the death of his father, during his freshmen year, Jordan used exercise and physical activity to cope with the loss and to honor his father, who was a sports science major. Jordan’s father used his knowledge of the importance of physical activity as a guiding principle for his life, passing on these values to Jordan.

This life-event changed Jordan’s thinking on what it meant to be holistically well. Discovering that physical activity helped him cope, he saw the same effects on how physical activity aided him as he managed the stress of college life.

“I found that when I work out I feel much better holistically,” he said. “I feel less anxious and I feel less stressed about my school work.”

During his sophomore year, Jordan applied to work at Wellness and Recreation, at the recommendation of a family member. As a facility assistant, Jordan did not know what to expect from the position.

This experience exposed Jordan to different perspectives that came with the position and others, as he quickly advanced to facility supervisor. It was not until he studied abroad that being part of the Wellness and Recreation team meant more. While abroad, Jordan applied to be a facilities program assistant, a student leadership role. Upon returning to the United States, he interviewed and was promoted to the position.

Taking his newly acquired skills in communication, conflict resolution and operations management for his various position, Jordan saw an opportunity to make an impact.

Jordan was instrumental in the development of a new position—the facility specialist. Designed to help improve the overall user experience, the facility specialist ensures areas such as the restrooms, locker rooms and activity spaces are cleaned, organized and welcoming. Jordan’s role included assisting in budget projections for the position, and most importantly, recruiting and training the staff.

“I was worried that I was not going to be able to recruit enough people and then also get them to buy in,” he said.

However, he gained the confidence to effectively lead a team of his peers. By providing resources and hands-on training, Jordan was able to inspire the student staff to buy into their roles.

“I really gained my confidence when I first started recruiting and working with the facility specialist,” said Jordan. 

Jordan Keller at Carmichael Gym
Jordan Kelber ’19

Because of Jordan’s efforts, the facility specialist position has expanded its coverage in the Carmichael Gym from 30 hours per to more than 50 hours per week, in the span of one year.

This April, Jordan was the recipient of the John F. Miller Award, the highest honor a student-employee at Wellness and Recreation can receive. This award is given to a program assistant that demonstrates leadership, teamwork, is committed to healthy, active lifestyles, demonstrates professionalism and reflects a positive representation of the department.

“To be the recipient of this award is just extremely overwhelming for me,” he said. “I just feel so honored because there are so many great employees that work at Wellness and Recreation so for me to receive that honor just it means a lot.”

“Jordan understands how facility operations can support and promote wellness to all staff and users alike and uses his passion for wellness to impact the lives of everyone he comes in contact with,” wrote Jonathan Hennessey, facility operations coordinator and Jordan’s supervisor, when nominating him for the award.

Jordan plans to attend graduate school at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, working toward a master’s degree in therapeutic recreation. Jordan will also serve as the graduate assistant for facility operations for the Department of Recreation and Wellness.