B&E student, SGA governor rolls up sleeves and helps with West Virginia flood relief
A degree in accounting; one would imagine the life of a CPA or an auditor, not a medical doctor. But, Brandon Waters — a rising accounting senior at the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics and an Honors College student — is breaking the mold with his route to a dream job of working in emergency medicine and displaying what it truly means to be a Mountaineer with his passion for helping others.
“I didn't want a traditional route to medical school; I'm interested in so many fields of study, and it would honestly be a shame to waste some of the best years of my life studying topics that I'm not completely interested in. Accounting gives me the flexibility and resources to study business — something I'm incredibly passionate about — while still allowing me to take the courses necessary to prepare for the School of Medicine here at WVU,” the Morgantown, West Virginia, native said. “Hopefully someday, when I've graduated and I'm working as an emergency medicine physician or trauma surgeon, I'll be able to take on a leadership position in hospital administration, and the College of Business and Economics will have helped prepare me for that role.”
With his diverse interests combined with his love for politics, Waters was elected to the Student Government Association Board of Governors in March 2016. From his platforms of accessibility and inclusion, it is easy to see Waters is seeking to make the WVU campus, West Virginia and the world a better and more inclusive place. This commitment to fostering a community based on inclusion and accessibility comes from a major support system in Waters’ life — his mother.
“My mom uses a wheelchair, and I ran on accessibility and inclusion. My mom has always made comments to me like, ‘If I were to go to WVU now, there's no way I would be able to do it.’ She graduated from WVU with her masters, and it’s always stuck with me. I always walk around and look for the accessible routes to everything, I guess the non-accessible routes to everything, and I always have to take that extra minute to think, ‘What would my mom do? How is my mom going to make it here?’ It was sort of the inspiration for me running [for Board of Governors]. It was my mom,” he said.
Since accepting this role, he has taken his life philosophy of helping others to a new level, even being an integral part of WVU’s recent efforts to help with flood relief in the southern part of the state.
“It’s been really great. We started out that Saturday after the flooding collecting items to send to southern West Virginia. It’s absolutely overwhelming. I don’t think anyone expected that we would have the outpouring of support that we did,” he said. “When we would make it to Stansbury Hall to unload items from the drop-off locations, and we are talking full vans, you would open the doors and items would start falling on top of you. We kept this up for two weeks, and it never slowed down. There were days that you would walk in and see that we had taken supplies down south, and then things would quickly fill back up again. I don’t think anybody ever expected that.”
Now, WVU has moved into the phase of sending volunteers to the affected areas to help. In true Mountaineer spirit, Waters jumped at the opportunity to roll up his sleeves and begin cleaning up from the devastating destruction that affected so many members of the Mountaineer family.
“I cannot begin to describe the overwhelming destruction that I saw. I have never in my life witnessed such devastation firsthand. We headed down to Webster County, where we worked to help restore a local business, Callahan’s Deli. Combined, our group of students, alumni, faculty and staff contributed over 180 hours of service on Saturday alone. We worked to tear up flooring that had been ruined by the over eight feet of water that swept through the town,” Waters said.
“We also visited the home of a local, elderly woman, and removed everything from her basement that had been destroyed,” he said. “The resiliency of our family down in southern West Virginia is truly amazing; you repeatedly hear everyone talk of how blessed they are and about how they will move forward with God’s help. I have been so incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to help my fellow Mountaineers move forward from this terrible tragedy.”
Waters has become a staple in the WVU and Morgantown communities, holding one full-time and one part-time job and his involvement in several activities and organizations. He is the secretary of the Alpha Mu Chapter of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity and a brother in Lambda Chi Alpha. His favorite designation of all is being known as a Mountaineer.
“Being a Mountaineer means being a part of a family, a family that encompasses so much more than just academics. Our family takes care of each other, and we do it with unwavering and limitless love, support and compassion,” Waters said. “We study hard and we work hard, and, yes, we might play hard sometimes, too. But at the end of the day, we do not only what is asked of us, but go above and beyond that call of duty. No matter whether you have graduated from West Virginia University or not, if you’ve had any connection with our great University, you are a Mountaineer. And we take care of our own — all Mountaineers.”