April 28, 2017
Garrett Brown, a senior management major with an emphasis in human resource management in the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics, is one of nine students nationwide who received the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation Scholarship. The New Cumberland, West Virginia, native is also the first B&E undergraduate student to receive the honor.
“It feels great to know that I am the first undergraduate from WVU to win the award. It doesn’t just help my name out there, but also the University — to send a message that we have people who work hard to achieve their dreams,” he said.
To earn the scholarship, Brown had to be a national member of SHRM, submit a resume and write an essay about prior work experience, volunteer activities, contribution to the organization and why he wanted to be in HR.
“I wrote an essay about my volunteer work, and I wrote about our Trunk-or-Treat initiative here at WVU, which I think is great for the community,” he said. “We had such a great turnout last year. I dressed up as Scooby Doo, and the kids loved it. I enjoyed being able to talk about that experience in my essay and really displaying my personality.”
While he started out college a little unsure of what he wanted to do, he quickly grew to love the HR field, especially when he was chosen as the HR intern for Mountain Line Transit Authority in Morgantown.
“The experience I got there is invaluable. I did EEO programs, affirmative action, unemployment hearings, performance evaluations — all in this little county public transportation place that has six or seven administrative people and 40 bus drivers,” he said. “I got all this experience that helps me solidify and separate myself from other people. I’m so happy they gave me this opportunity to do real HR work that I will be able to use in my career and future.”
Earning his undergraduate degree in management is not his last academic endeavor. Brown will go on to earn his Master of Science in Industrial Relations and Human Resources (MSIR) next year, which will help him to continue to grow in the HR industry.
“HR is about equity and empathy. An article I read said, ‘We are not in the nice business, we’re in the fair business.’ A lot of people go into HR thinking, ‘I just want to help people,’ which isn’t necessarily the case. Yeah, you are helping people; you are helping the company, but you can’t always be the nice guy,” he said. “Growing up, I went through life with the philosophies of empathy and equity – you get what you earn. So, HR kind of helps build onto that.”
Currently, Brown serves as the director of communications for the WVU chapter of SHRM, but as he enters into his first year of graduate school, he will take on the role of vice president.
“You learn so much in textbooks, teaching and lectures, but being in a student organization like SHRM, you get a different perspective of the field of work. If you’re in HR or not, SHRM is a great organization to help get the feel of what you can expect out in the real world,” he said. “It is a great way to get involved and meet people who are in the same field as you or learn aspects of the field you are interested in.”
Brown wears many hats at B&E. He is a part of Beta Gamma Sigma and is also a teaching assistant for Dr. Ajay Aluri, an assistant professor of hospitality and tourism management. The HR enthusiast also recently competed in the Division I category of the national SHRM Case Competition in Philadelphia. Although his team did not win the competition, several outside observers from other universities gave positive feedback about their presentation. Some even sought out the team members to tell them how impressive they were during the competition.
“The SHRM Case Competition in Philadelphia was a great experience! We got to network and meet a lot of great people and students with the same interests from all over the country. We also learned from keynote speakers and a panel of HR professionals to enhance our perspective of the HR profession,” Brown said. “Overall it was a great experience and I can't wait to hopefully do it again next year when I am a graduate student.”