Director of the Second-Year Experience Ronda Bryant is a perfect example of a product of the diverse and explorative learning environment Ferrum College provides its students.
Bryant holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and a Master of Education in counselor education from Wake Forest University. She received her doctorate degree in higher education administration from the University of Virginia, and is proud to be a first-generation college student.
She is piloting the Second-Year Experience, a newly developed program focused on guiding sophomores – students in the “middle” stage of college – successfully through the second half of their higher education experience. She also oversees the Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) program; helped develop the Ask ME First Center which works with first-generation college students; taught Gateway freshman seminar courses; and founded the Sister4Sister student organization for women on campus. It’s safe to say helping students succeed is high on her priority list.
Bryant has another passion, a second intriguing layer. “Health and wellness are very important to me,” she explained. “I used to be a lot heavier in my twenties and decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle when I turned thirty. I have been able to maintain a roughly eighty pound weight loss. For me, fitness is a lifestyle. I have the same cravings and struggles as everyone else. I work very hard to stay balanced and consistent. I want to enjoy the benefits that come from being healthy, like being pain- and medication-free.”
Bryant got hooked on Zumba in 2010 and became an instructor in 2011. She has been teaching Zumba classes at Ferrum College’s YMCA twice a week since 2013. “The Zumba classes I teach here are for everyone – students, faculty, staff, and the community. We don’t require dance experience and we welcome all fitness levels. When you come to my classes, you’re likely to hear everything from salsa and Latin rhythms, to African beats and hip-hop, to Caribbean music,” she explained.
In 2017, Bryant began exploring bodybuilding. “A couple of trainers mentioned that I should look into possibly entering a bodybuilding show,” she said. “I got a coach and started working with a friend who was a trainer, and they were critical in getting me ready.” Preparing for her first show took about five months and required lifting weights, cardio, a strict diet, and learning how to post and present herself on stage. Bryant did well in her first show and earned a Pro Card in the Figure Masters category, but hasn’t competed as a professional yet. She plans to compete again this spring.
Originally from Kinston, NC, Bryant cherishes her family and visits them often; she is a proud aunt of three nieces and one nephew. She is also a singer and recently traveled to Germany, France, and Switzerland to perform with a group of her college friends. Despite her many activities and interests, Bryant always comes back to her mission to help students navigate higher education: “At Ferrum, what I love more than anything else are the students. To watch students figure out this whole ‘college-thing,’ and then thrive and excel and ultimately earn their degrees, is very important to me,” she said.
Learn more about the ARC’s special academic programs here.
Learn more about Ferrum College’s YMCA and see a workout class schedule here.