Jason and Allison Townsend (Staff)
Jason and Allison Townsend share their love for Mississippi State and its “family” atmosphere, and they’ve both made lasting friendships with university colleagues.
Jason, an MSU bachelor’s and master’s graduate who is working on a Ph.D., is associate director for the Joe Frank Sanderson Center, MSU’s 150,000-square-foot recreational facility. Among other administrative duties, he is focused on physical fitness and seeing students develop lifelong healthy habits and active lifestyles.
Allison, who attended MSU for prerequisite courses before earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Mississippi University for Women, is charge nurse at MSU’s Longest Student Health Center, where she cares for students and other patients daily as she assists university clinicians.
While both have formal work responsibilities related to health and well-being, the Townsends also said they are especially rewarded when they can mentor individual students and see them thrive and mature during their time on campus.
They particularly enjoy hosting international students at their home, and Allison noted that many of them do not have an opportunity to visit a local Starkville home.
“Sometimes you feel like you need to say or do a little bit extra for some students who cross your path. When you can be a mentor, that connection with a student is very rewarding,” Allison said.
Jason agreed, adding that mentorship is a responsibility for all MSU faculty and staff, and each person can make an impact on students in a positive way, even if it may not be immediately noticeable.
He explained that the Sanderson Center employs many student workers each semester, and staff encourage student employees to provide excellent customer service at all times. Jason said that, on occasion, he has encouraged student workers about ways to improve their customer service or handle situations and conversations with increased professionalism.
“Later, when students acquire jobs and call to say ‘thank you for having that mentor moment,’ it lets me know that I’m helping students reach their potential as they go on to advance in their careers,” he said.
The couple are parents of two boys, Trevor, 6, and Micah, 4. The Townsends enjoy that MSU is not only their workplace, but a special place for the whole family.
“The boys are very invested in going to the athletic events,” Jason said.
Allison said that Starkville and MSU are home, especially since both she and Jason now have lived locally longer than they lived in their hometowns.
“Going through school here and then starting a family here, it’s easy to love and appreciate your work here also,” she said.