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People of Preston RANDALL P. BOGARD

People of Preston is a campaign created to share the stories behind the faces that have shaped Western Kentucky University’s Raymond B. Preston Health and Activities Center over the years. The regular patrons and students are who make up the face of our facility. This campaign allows for our program to build trust and relationships with already loyal members to hopefully connect personally with even more of our Bowling Green community.

Pulling from the ground up, forcing his hips, knees and ankles into triple extension, he catches the only 50-pound sandbag on the floor on top of his shoulders. With his elbows and chest held high, Randall throws the bag down cueing a cloud of sand to follow and moves onto his next exercise.

Randall P. Bogard always shows up–never on time–but always shows up to his functional fitness class every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during his lunch break at the Preston Health and Activities Center.

He shows up in a black, baggy long sleeve T-shirt covering his dark skin, basketball shorts, high crew socks and the occasional hat to switch personas from professional to patron upon entering the gym.

The suggested four rounds of exercises is never accurate for his pace and work ethic on the blue floored basketball courts, where class is held. Randall does not need the fitness class anymore, as his fitness levels have surpassed the class expectations, however, Randall still shows up.

“I have nieces and nephews, I have people that rely on me and I need to be at my top physical condition to be able to help everybody out,” Randall said swaying back and forth in a desk chair as if he was itching to get up and move.

Working out has become his escape, just like sports was an escape for him in high school, he said.

“I don’t hear anything around me,” Randall said. “I just kind of focus on the task at hand. That is probably the only time in the day that I am at a clear mind.”

Randall P. Bogard is the primary advisor for Campus Activities on WKU's campus.

Randall is the Assistant Director of Student Activities for Western Kentucky University. He stays on campus until the last vote is collected and the election results are heralded for WKU’s Student Government Association (SGA). After being up since 6 a.m., Randall stays on campus until 9 p.m. when the last student of the National Panhellenic Council (NPHC) or the Campus Activities Board (CAB) leaves. And he shows up to monthly 7 a.m. Preston Center Advisory Council meetings because he asked to serve on the council as a voice for the students within the facility, said Candice Douglas, the Assistant Director of Facilities at the Preston Center.

“If you don’t know, Randall does a little bit of everything,” Amber Moorman said.

Moorman is a senior and the president of CAB, one of Randall’s primary advising groups and met him when she was a freshman. She was sitting tall with her soft, dark brown curls parted and pinned back against her light brown skin, looking poised yet anxious. She started to tear up at the thought of the little things Randall does to make her feel special, something as small as giving her five bucks to eat during the day.

“This is is really weird but Randall is like my BG dad,” Moorman said. “Literally he does everything for me–”

“I’m sorry,” she said wiping the tears from her face. She turned her head to the side looking for anything to distract her. She said Randall is one person who can always tell when something is wrong. She said it’s like a father-daughter relationship.

Randall stands just shy of six feet tall amongst the leaders of each Greek chapter in the National Panhellenic Council. He knows each of them by name and finds something to laugh with each of them about. Randall’s hope is to see a student fill his shoes one day. He said he knows one day there will be another minority male or minority female that wants to do his job.

Randall said he is trying to train his students to be more like his “full back” in life, his eldest brother, Steven. He said Steven hits the hole hard in life and takes all of the tacklers so Randall can just run through, sitting pretty.

“I don’t want any of my students to have any excuses,” Randall said.

Randall grew up in a separated household of four boys. He was raised by two police officers who never married and never truly lived together–and two hard nosed grandmothers who permitted only the correct use of language in their households. Both grandmothers lived in the Housing Development of Gary, Indiana, Randall said that society also called the “projects.”

When Randall was in middle school and high school, his mom worked as a police officer by day and postal clerk from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Randall and his brothers would travel back and forth between the two grandmothers’ houses during the day where only “no ma’ams” and “yes ma’ams” were permitted.

And it wasn’t “fart,” it was “pass gas,” Randall said.

In middle school, Randall also began to notice the presence of gangs formulating in his neighborhood and started seeing people lose their life to gun violence. Even though his parents were not always around, he said their discipline enabled him to make the right choices.

Chris Wilborn is a senior and another one of Randall’s advisees as well as the president of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and Building Men of Worth group on campus. He said Randall has become like a big brother to him over the years. He said Randall is a family member away from his home in Chicago.

“Honestly, it’s been a heck of a ride and I appreciate everything Randall has done for me,” Wilborn said. “Just helping me out and lending a hand because not too many people do that.”

Wilborn said Randall taught him that he could turn his life around no matter what background or family you come from.

“Randall kind of made me see that in a different light,” Wilborn said.

Randall doesn’t have any kids besides the ones he calls his students on campus. He is single. But has crafted a different kind of family all over the country.

For Randall, he said family is just those who are constantly there for him.

His eldest brother does not have the same father. Randall's relationship with his father has fluctuated over the years. He has two sisters by the same father, but never lived with them and found out he once had a brother he never even got to know.

“For me, family has been somewhat created,” Randall said.

One addition to his family was 16 years ago when he met Ronni Moore as an undergraduate student on Indiana University’s campus, who he now calls his sister. Ronni has a wide, white smile with small rectangular glasses hiding her dark brown eyes that constantly look after her one-year-old daughter. She knows Randall as “Uncle Randall.”

“[He] took me under his wing as my protector and it has been that way ever since,” Moore said. “Randall is like a rock to me. He’s one of those people that I feel like having him as a friend in a way makes me a better person.”

Moore said Randall has always been a goal-oriented person with an intention to every action.

“I think he just really wants to make sure that when he does have a family, it’s with the right person,” Moore said.

When Randall had been up since 1 a.m. finalizing the electoral votes of the SGA election, the first place he went after a night without sleep was the Preston Center. He had to make it to his functional fitness class.

Randall walked in a little over 30 minutes late to class, hat and baggy t-shirt on–not for his students or his family, but for himself.

“I’m not going to do much,” he said.

But, Randall showed up.

“The Preston Center is more of a gym to me because it’s helped me connect with a lot of people through the avenues of lifting and intramurals but it has also given me a great stress relief outlet and that’s really helped me balance my career here as a professional on the Hill.”
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Hayley Robb
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Hayley Robb

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