The University Union is the center of most campus activities, it is the heart and focal point of UNT! A place where students can meet to relax between classes, grab a bite to eat with some friends, create something new, support your local artists, and so much more. However, have you ever thought about the people behind the scenes that make the Union so great? We have, and one of them is Tony Boykin-King! Boykin-King is a marketing coordinator here at the Union, he also supervises the information desk, and oversees the lost and found.
Being a marketing coordinator, Boykin-King has specific duties. He has to maintain the Union’s site, along with the UNT on the square and event planning sites, and occasionally the gateway-coliseum site. In addition to that, he is also at the Information Desk where he supervises the students there. At the Information Desk he and students are the first contact for a lot of visitors, patrons, families, and of course, the students at UNT. Another part of his job that has been interesting to work around is overseeing campus lost and found. Sometimes being a very tedious process, Boykin-King has gotten a “pretty okay” system in place now.
Boykin-King was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. At WKU, he majored in advertising, however, advertising was not his original intension.
“In high school, I was one of the editors for the newspaper. I really loved learning about people’s stories, their narratives, and what they have been through. So, I wanted to go into news editorial, but then I go to college and I kind of changed. I told myself “I’ll never switch my major”, but I did.”
However, he had a close family friend who was working for The Plain Dealer, one of the main newspapers in Cleveland, who helped him make the decision to switch.
“I was talking to her and she said specifically how news editorial, in regards to newspapers, was kind of a dying field and trend since everything is electronic. There’s so many blogs and everything is opinion based, so I decided to switch from news editorial to advertising.”
Under advertising, Boykin-King did print advertising. This included layout and illustration design. His degree was similar to a double major, in which he also graduated in interactive design. Which includes web development, building websites, and other website related topics.
If it wasn’t for his experience at WKU, Boykin-King felt like he wouldn’t be who he is today. His experience at WKU was very influential to his growth as a human. Boykin-King imparted some advice for current students.
“After my freshman year, it was like every time I walked, on campus or up the hilltop up, everybody would be like ‘Hey Tony!’ Like everybody knew me. I had some friends visit me and they were like, ‘Why does everybody know you?’ I don’t know, I’ve just made a lot of connections. Being an RA had its perks of creating those relationships. It was highly revolutionary for me, since I never created a space for me to be me. I felt like, especially before college, I had to fit into other people’s box or definitions of who I was, but I became my own person…College is not meant to be perfect. I think there is beauty and knowledge in imperfections. What you see as a mistake or a moment that’s horrible, is not as big as it seems. I always tell my students, ‘Don’t come out the way you came in. You’re supposed to change and you’re supposed to have celebratory moments. You’re supposed to have pain and you’re supposed to be angry and frustrated. You’re supposed to be happy and joyful and have some really powerful relationships. Do all that and be the best you in this moment.’ “
Before coming to work at UNT, Boykin-King worked in housing at Saint Louis University. Residence and Housing life was the department where other departments would tap and ask to collab with them since students are on campus and in that space.
“I am a purpose driven person and I like to do things that at the most part make me happy. Housing along with all the things I was juggling, wasn’t aligning with me. My last year in housing I had already been doing a lot of design jobs and stuff for my department, so I was like, let’s try to find a design specific or marketing related job. Student affairs was going to finally help me utilize my undergrad degree that I paid for. I searched, searched, and searched, found a job and I’m here!”
Boykin-King’s favorite part of his job is the autonomy he has and creating different creative solutions specifically on the web. His other favorite part is a considerable piece of his job, supervising his students. He always tells them “If it wasn’t for y’all, I would not only not have a job but I wouldn’t necessarily want to get up and come to work in the morning because I’m not just working for my well being, I’m working to continuously create community with you all.” For Boykin-King, it’s always a joy to work with his students.
“Being purpose driven, I’m always asking students and peers, about their purpose, why they’re here, and why they do what they do. I always tell students to come here, not just for the opportunity to attain a degree, but college has now become this place of growth and understanding. I think that just because I’m a student supervisor or I’ve been working at a school since forever, I kind of know the ins and outs. But, I’m learning things from my surroundings and my students everyday, and I appreciate that. That’s one thing about working at an institution, it’s ever changing. The makeup of our students are ever changing. I think, especially at UNT, once you appreciate the eclectic atmosphere, the different cultures, personalities, and moments with our students, then you grow and become a better person. You know, you just grow with the times.”
People like to think that Boykin-King is an extrovert, which he can be, usually if he’s out in public, but he would consider himself an introvert. He wanted his office to be a place where he could go back into his own space to recharge and reflect. To be in his space and then be able to go back out.
“I think the space that I’m in mainly, which is my office here on campus, needs to be conducive to creating that space of warmth and creating that space of home; letting it be an extension of that.”
When asked what his favorite things in his office were, Boykin-King’s response was “Everything!”
“When I was in housing a common thing is to make door decs for your residents and a lot of my RAs made door decs for me. That is probably like 5% of the ones I have. But it’s just a remembrance of all the students that I have interacted with that have enhanced my experience as a supervisor in this field, all the fun memories.”
“Another one is this wall behind me of different pictures, cards, quotes, and moments. Here, there’s a drawing on of my students, Claudia, did about 4 or 5 years ago, she’s a beautiful artist. All of these signify a memory or a moment in my life. I think sometimes in life we get really bogged down and heavy, especially when it’s a system of doing the same thing almost each and everyday. Right, how are you continuing to get motivated? How are you remembering, especially for me, that your job doesn’t begin and end at this desk? It’s about how people have influenced me and just remembering those moments.”
Another big piece to his office is his top shelf.
“I love the minions, I love the minions so much! It’s because you don’t understand what they’re saying, you know, but it’s about their actions and what they’re doing. It’s about their ability to show up, show out, and have fun. That’s what I love about the minions.”
“I have a Pikachu up there because I remember when the first episode of Pokémon came out in the U.S. I was right there in front of my tv and I loved every minute of it! It signifies my childhood. We grow up, but we’re all children. I think we need to acknowledge and appreciate the innocence of being a child and the beauty and simplicity of that.”
“I also have some quotes that keep my going. I love sock monkeys! All of these sock monkeys came from other people. My husband brought me those two large ones. These small ones signify moments whenever someone would go on a trip, a lot of my friends would bring me back a sock monkey and stuff that represents their own experience.”
“Then, I have a little Charlie Brown Christmas tree because I not only had my Charlie Brown moments in my childhood, but I am an avid fan and have an avid love of holidays and Christmas!”
From attending college to working at them, Tony Boykin-King has had his fair share of the college experience. That definitely comes in handy being a student supervisor! He uses his experiences to help his students on their college journey and in return he’s learning some things from them as well. Have questions about UNT? Maybe you’ve lost something around campus? Head over to the Information Desk at the University Union. Maybe you’ll see Tony hanging out with some of his students!