Jamiee Foster knows what it’s like to be the new kid.
The CAS senior had moved from Las Vegas to small-town Arkansas to Baltimore by the time she was in second grade.
“The experience of being the new kid twice so early on in my childhood really made me more empathetic because I knew what it was like to start over and be the one who didn’t know anyone,” Foster said.
That empathy is clear to this day when Foster interacts with others. At club meetings, she greets everyone warmly. She uses their name, and if she does not know someone’s name, she takes the time to find out. She pays attention to and is constantly engaged with the people around her.
Foster is president of the Class of 2015 Activities Board and a resident assistant in Founders residence hall. She aims to create a sense of community at NYU, and to teach people in the process. Coming from two parents in the academic field, Foster has the uncanny ability to bring students together for what would normally be social activities and add some deeper value.
Last year, she organized a coloring night for her residents, and on the bottom of each page were facts about different services offered at NYU and statistics about college students and depression, as well as the Wellness Center phone number. She also created a program about portion distortion and alcohol awareness. Using root beer, she asked participants what they thought a shot or other measurements of alcohol would look like.
One of the most influential programs Foster created as an RA came from a personal cause — eating disorder awareness. She created programming for all of the freshman residence halls as well as other dorms at NYU to commemorate Eating Disorder Awareness week in February 2014.
“I had an eating disorder for a long time — all through high school — and I came to college and I didn’t really get help for it until my junior year,” Foster said.
Foster used her experience with an eating disorder to recognize what has helped her the most in her recovery, and used that knowledge to figure out how she could support other people with eating disorders.
“Talking to other people has helped me so much, what if other people could go through the same thing?” Foster said.
Over 600 pictures were taken at the event, which created a photoshoot that promoted body positivity for students. One of the major themes of the event was to encourage students to reach out if they needed help with an eating disorder.
“It’s something that’s personal for me, and it helped me get over all of these things and learn all of these things, but it was also very important to me,” Foster said. “I think it’s programming that’s very important, but it’s not talked about.”
For Foster, it is less about the quantity of participants and more about the quality of the support they received during the event. She goes into most of her endeavors seeking simply to help people.
“There was an NYU Secret where this girl was like, ‘I’m getting help because of body positive program,’” Foster said. “Even if it was just one person, that made it worth it for me.”
Foster often leaves her peers and superiors in awe with her commitment to everything she is involved in and her ability to balance those things.
Her friend, Steinhardt junior Jordan Aanrud, uses Foster as a gauge to determine whether or not something is possible.
“When I’m feeling like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, I tend to think, ‘Could Jamiee make this work?’ If the answer is yes, I know it’s possible,” Aanrud said.
Paula Zwillich, resident hall assistant director at Founders and Foster’s supervisor, points out that the common theme between all of Foster’s involvements is her commitment to helping people.
“Everything she does in her role as an RA is to help others,” Zwillich said. “In her role with CAB, it’s putting on these large-scale programs and events for the senior class and just being there to provide something for other people … She wouldn’t be able to manage all of those things if she didn’t genuinely want to help other people.”
Foster’s enthusiasm and dedication rarely falter, but like all students, she sometimes has bad days. Foster recharges much like she does everything else — with other people.
“There are days when I’m probably not as ‘rainbows and sunshine’ as normally, but I think it’s just a matter of getting through and surrounding myself with good people has really made all of the difference,” Foster said.
Email Bailey Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org. A version of this article appeared in the 2014 Influential print edition.