Story by: Hayley Robb

Photos by: Matthew Hamilton

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.

From lifeguard to challenge course facilitator, Zoie Hamby has filled just about every role demanded by WKU's Preston Center. Hamby started at the Preston Center in fall 2016 as a transfer student from Evansville, Indiana.

"I was looking for something that was further from home and a better experience," Hamby said.

She said she had heard of WKU and knew people who went to WKU but never really looked into it.

The Preston Center was something she just happened to stumble upon, as well.

"I just needed a job," Hamby said laughing.

She started as a lifeguard in fall 2016 and then became a supervisor and control desk attendant. She was then hired as an outdoor recreation and adventure course trip leader and challenge course facilitator.

"Zoie is a great trip leader for ORAC," Haley Gouine, the Preston Center's graduate assistant for ORAC, said. "She is always thinking on her toes and making the most out of every situation."

She said Hamby has been able to grow in multiple ways throughout her time with ORAC.

"But most importantly, she has helped ORAC grow with the experiences she has brought with her," Gouine said.

Taking on more roles in the department didn't stop Hamby from becoming more involved in the Preston Center. After being nudged by older peers before her, she became Student Employee Board (SEB) vice president in spring 2017. And in fall 2017, Hamby became president of SEB.

SEB is a student-led volunteer organization that serves as a voice for the Preston Center employees and coordinates events for the staff throughout the year.

"I had some amazing people and they brought me to the meetings and from there I just loved it and I loved what it stood for and just the excitement that everybody had around it," Hamby said.

Hamby said the timing was perfect for her to step into a leadership role with the right people able to mold her and guide her in this next step.

Fun fact about Hamby: She can stack five helmets on top of her head.

Being president SEB requires Hamby to be present at a lot of things other employees are not required to attend like the Preston Advisory Council meetings once a month. However, being a part of this group of honorary Preston Center alumni and patrons has provided her with opportunities unique to her major.

Hamby is studying architectural science, which she said she developed an interest in at a young age with her grandfather.

"He was a mechanical engineer and from a young age, he would take me to work and I was very influenced and inspired by it all so I wanted to do something within that field."

In high school, she said she was lucky enough to go to a trade school that taught her skills specific to engineering and prepared her for what she wanted to do in college.

The Preston Center just happened to be discussing renovations and hosting architects on-site to discuss the newest additions to the building in the next eight to 10 years.

"I got lucky in them starting the Phase 3 and that was a really big design opportunity so to speak," Hamby said. "I was able to meet the architects and talk about initial designs and their plans and just their vision for the Preston Center."

Hamby is also the executive officer for WKU's chapter of the American Institute of Architect Students.

Hamby said the Preston Center has not only fostered her professional career but has given her lots of opportunities to explore who she is, which is most prevalent when she is outdoors.

"I've always loved being out and just being active," Hamby said. "I don't think that I was very into it or inspired by it before I came here. It's definitely been something that has blossomed over the years, which I'm very very happy about."

ORAC is one program area that has allowed Hamby to lead on trips she's passionate about like rock climbing. However, Hamby said her time with ORAC has ultimately been shaped by the other trip leaders she has gotten to know because they are all "so goofy."

"That's always what I'm going to remember from ORAC is just, you know, we're working but we're silly," Hamby said. "We're just a fun group. We are who we are and everybody just loves it."

"We're just a fun group. We are who we are and everybody just loves it."

Hamby said after graduation she plans to pursue her architecture license and will be studying under current architects to prepare for her licensing exams. She plans to be in Bowling Green until August but hopes to relocate to either Chattanooga or Knoxville, Tennessee to end up closer to the mountains.

"For me, I'll always be outdoors," Hamby said. "I'll alway be outdoors especially with architecture. I think those two combined are just a form of art and beauty and to just be able to pursue that I think it will really open my eyes up to a lot of new things."

Hamby said the Preston Center has guided her through not only college or work but has shown her how to be there for people. And the relationships are what will continue to impact her as she goes on through the rest of her career, she said.

"I think what I'm going to miss most about Preston and definitely what I'm going to miss most when I leave is being able to witness all of the opportunities that Preston gives to all of its employees undergraduate, graduate and professional staff alike."

She said the Preston Center was always a place she wanted to be at during her time on WKU's campus.

"The Preston Center is more than a gym to me because its a second home. It's a place to be yourself, be silly, have fun, and just love who you're around and what you're doing."

Zoie Hamby is one of the Preston Center's seniors that will be graduating in the Fall. Thank you to all of the graduates we will be celebrating next month for your hard work and dedication to making this the best facility it can be.

Created By
Hayley Robb


Photos by: Matthew Hamilton and Hayley Robb

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