Most college students are wrapped up in a hectic lifestyle that involves studying, working, and in some cases, family responsibilities. Shayla Fox has learned that many students are eager to give back to the community. All they need is a gentle nudge.

As volunteer engagement coordinator at Montana State University Billings, Fox is always on the lookout for opportunities to connect students, faculty and staff with the community at large.

“We believe community involvement strengthens a sense of responsible and productive citizenship, which creates lifelong commitment to service and leadership,” Fox said.

Fox is proud that MSU Billings students contributed more than 8,000 volunteer hours for the community.

Those volunteer efforts are recognized in many ways. Around 90 MSU Billings students helped with the recent Festival of Trees fundraiser, which helps the Family Tree Center combat child abuse.

“When you get a humongous group like that, the work goes pretty quickly,” Fox said.

MSU Billings has long been popular with non-traditional students: people who often have some work experience but are pursuing higher education.

“They have that passion and that drive. Many of them have children, and they’re thinking, ‘I’m not just bettering my life, but I’m bettering my child’s life as well,’” Fox said.

Not long ago, Fox was surprised to learn that a fair number of students occasionally run short of food. That led to the creation of the Yellowjacket Emergency Pantry, which allows students to pick up non-perishable food that will help stretch their grocery budget.

“Working with young adults is something I love,” she said. “They’re going through so much change, but I can help guide them and be there for them. I have a passion to help them make a difference.”

Describe how this career happened for you: Throughout my time in collegiate career, I worked in Advising and Career Services at Palomar Community College in San Diego. From there, my passion for higher education grew. After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in human development, I decided to continue on the path of student affairs in higher education and move back to my hometown of Billings. My current job in the Office for Community Involvement blends my background in human development with my passion for higher education.

What’s the biggest challenge in your job? Helping students achieve their goal of higher education despite an ever-changing student population and connecting volunteers to agencies that are in need of volunteers

What’s the best business advice you have received? Every day we must make a choice to make good things happen for other people. Working in higher education, our goal is to help students succeed both educationally and personally.

Who gave you that advice? Jeff Rosenberry, Interim Associate Dean of Students, MSUB.

Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: I want to create positive lasting change in the Billings community. One change that I would like to see happen in 2017 is creating a mentorship program at Tumbleweed through the Billings Jaycees. In order to create change and improve my community, I have joined several work groups that focus on hunger in hopes that we will be able to address some of the food insecurity needs in the Billings community. 

Outside of work, my biggest passion is: The Billings Jaycees, an organization composed of young adults who strive to create positive lasting change in the Billings community. I was recently elected the 2017 Billings Jaycees president.

Which living person do you most admire? My mother, Sara Fox, has spent her entire professional career helping at-risk teens grow personally and professionally. She is not only passionate about what she does but she has changed the lives of everyone that she has had the chance to work with because of her enthusiasm and positive demeanor.

Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Student success and impact in the community.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Working in a career that I absolutely love. All of the hours spent studying, exams, and working my way up have paid off in a career that uses my strengths and passion.

I’m happiest when I’m…surrounded by my family.