May 10, 2017 9:30AM
Courtney Hensler laughs when she thinks of how she got the job managing Pittsburg State University’s Crimson Village Apartments.
“When the position became open, I applied thinking it was going to be good practice for a job interview,” Hensler said. “I was initially surprised when I was offered the job. It was like nothing I had ever done before and came with a learning curve, but it quickly became my second home!
Actually, Hensler, who will be among the more than 1,200 students who receive degrees from PSU this week, did have good preparation for her new job. She previously worked as a resident assistant in one of the university’s residence halls.
But Crimson Village is different from any other university housing. Opened in 2005, Crimson Village is a group of 20 duplexes that are available to full-time, married Pitt State students with or without children or single parents with children. To be eligible, applicants must meet income eligibility requirements for Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Those residents have been an inspiration for Hensler, a psychology major who plans to continue on to graduate school and eventually become a school psychologist.
“They’re hard workers and I admire them greatly,” Hensler said of the residents she serves. “About half are international. All of them are either married or have children. They have at least two jobs: being a student and being a family member, and many work off-campus, as well. I met a mom of three who went to school and worked a full-time job. I’ve seen her in class and she always sits in the front row. If you miss the class, she’s the one who’s going to know what happened.”
Because they are fathers, mothers, husbands or wives on top of being students, the issues the residents in Crimson Village deal with are different from those she often heard about in the traditional residence hall, Hensler said.
“You get to be there on some of their best days, but also some of their worst days, too.”
Though just 19 when she started, Hensler took on a lot of responsibility. As manager of Crimson Village, she lives on site. She handles emergency calls, is responsible for turning in work orders for maintenance and repairs, calls applicants, schedules tours, writes the leases and plans two annual barbecues for the residents.
“I use a lot of what I’ve learned in my psychology classes,” Hensler said of her job. “And I think my faith provides a lot of the strength I need and use every day.”
That strength involves more than just being manager at Crimson Village. In addition to work there, Hensler has also been an interventionist in the Center for READing (Research, Evaluation, and Awarness of Dyslexia) on campus and has has provided one-on-one tutoring for children in surrounding areas who are having trouble in school. In addition to her work in the center, Hensler has assisted in research under the guidance of Bruce Warner, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling, and has presented that research at national and regional conferences.
Hensler says she has enjoyed the work she’s done as manager of Crimson Village. She’s excited about moving on to graduate school and she’s looking forward to a meaningful career as a school psychologist, but all of this almost didn’t happen.
That’s because initially, Hensler planned on attending another university.
“I was signed up to go to K-State. I had a roommate and everything,” Hensler said. “But I came to PSU for a visit and met with some professors. When I came back for a second visit, they remembered me. I thought, ‘Here I’m going to be Courtney. I’m not going to be number 3,072.’ It sounds cliché, but from my first day on campus, it felt like home.”