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The world turned upside down two years after alumna Brooke Bailey returned to Auburn University to work in the Department of Campus Safety and Security.

While the Auburn community — and much of the world — was grappling to find a new normal amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, Bailey was already coming up with answers and solutions. As the department’s marketing and communications specialist, Bailey managed the university’s COVID Resource Center.

Bailey not only coordinated volunteers and paid call center staff and created a document with the most up-to-date information and policies so everyone would have consistent messaging, but she managed the website and created FAQs regarding the quarantine, testing and later vaccine policies. She eventually took over responding to all inquiries via phone and email as the pandemic waned and the center downsized and eventually disappeared altogether. 

“It was really about being able to answer people’s questions and also providing them with information. It was a lot,” Bailey admitted. “But during that time, I got to work with some pretty amazing people at the university that I had never worked with before, including from the Harrison College of Pharmacy, the Medical Clinic, Campus Safety, Student Affairs, Risk Management, HR, the provost’s office … I just felt so lucky to be able to work with these people on something that was so impactful to our university community — not just students, but faculty and staff.”

In addition to her work managing the COVID-19 Resource Center, Bailey also had to juggle her other responsibilities for the department, from speaking at Auburn’s freshman summer orientation program, Camp War Eagle, to making sure that the campus community knew what to do during severe weather and teaching a self-defense class for women.

Bailey recently was recognized for that important work as one of four Employees of the Year during the annual Employee Recognition Ceremony.

“Brooke is very organized and manages her time well. She consistently advances projects and completes them in a timely manner under significant time constraints,” Susan McCallister, director of Campus Safety and Compliance, wrote in Bailey’s nomination form. “During the pandemic, she successfully managed continual updates to the COVID-19 Resource Center resources and website as disease prevalence fluctuated and federal, state and university guidelines evolved. She did everything within her control to ensure resources for the campus community were updated promptly and personnel involved with response to calls and emails had current information.”

In September 2022, Bailey began working in the Office of Communications and Marketing (OCM) as a project manager. She said the same things she loved about her time with Campus Safety have continued in this role, too.

“What I love about this job goes back to one of the things I really liked when I worked at the COVID-19 Resource Center: working with so many different people across campus and really finding out who they’re speaking to, what they need to get out, what’s so important about what they’re doing and helping them share that message with their intended audiences,” Bailey said. “I really like being able to touch point with different people and places across this campus.”

A man, woman and three kids stand behind a large AU sign with a balloon arch in the background.

Bailey with her husband, Bill, and kids Charli, Kai and Liam at the Employee Recognition Ceremony.

A surprise recognition

Unaware of her impending recognition, Bailey planned to miss the Employee Recognition Ceremony in order to chaperone her oldest son’s field trip. But with the help of her OCM supervisors, who scheduled an important — but fake — research and marketing meeting, her husband and even her son’s teacher, she was sitting in the front rows when her name was called.

“It was very shocking, I was very surprised to be honored in that way and that so many people went to such great lengths to make sure that I was there with my co-workers and family,” Bailey said. “So, that was pretty amazing.”

When Bailey graduated from Auburn in 2005, she spent 13 years working for the NBC affiliate in Montgomery before returning to the Plains. But she never truly left.

“I lived in Auburn the whole time that I worked in Montgomery,” Bailey shared. “I don’t have one favorite moment, it’s just being in a place that my family and I enjoy and where we have happy moments. It makes you smile coming here.

“Whether it’s walking back to the office on my lunch break or walking across Samford Lawn with my family when we’re around town and visiting — those are the things that make Auburn a special place.”