The Valdosta Daily Times
A decade and a half is quite a bit of time, so much time that the relationship between two men, Amos Terrell and Jarrod Brogdon, has evolved from that of understudy and mentor to two best friends who have accompanied each other through difficult places and are now on course to complete their doctoral degrees together.
Today, Brogdon, a young dean of student services at Wiregrass Technical College, and Terrell, the college's chief information officer and a man who stands a generation older than Brogdon, are working to complete doctorates in public administration and information technology respectively. The two can agree that they became friends almost instantly.
The Lowndes High School graduate says he had a solid childhood here in Valdosta,
playing alto saxophone in the high school's marching band and sewing the seeds for today's passion of song-writing and touring his guitar around town. But just as Brogdon converted his excitement for music from sax to guitar, he shifted his passion and devotion from nursing to information and the technology behind it when he began working for Terrell.
“I knew his mother and I was talking to her one day. She said she had a son at VSU who couldn’t figure out what to do,” says Terrell, as he recounts how the two men first crossed paths. “I asked her if he liked computers and she said yes. So I told her to tell him to come out and we've been friends since then.”
Brogdon would spend the next two years under the tutelage of Terrell and the former nursing student learned the in’s and out’s of computer networking and the roles of a network administrator.
“At the time, there was still a lot of charting on PC's but not a whole lot of technology involved in nursing,” says Brogdon. “It was a complete switch and Amos made that transition a whole lot easier. When I started out here, I knew absolutely nothing about networks or PC repairs. He took me under his wings and, in two years time, I felt like I was ready for the network administration job that had opened up at Moody.”
Terrell was drawn to Brogdon's work ethic and recalls the heart Terrell lent the small information technology department at Wiregrass.
“He called me one day and asked if I minded if he took off the coming Friday and, I'll tell you, it was funny,” says Terrell. “So you have someone working forty hours a week for you, for free, as well as working at the hospital on the weekend and going to school. I thought someone was pulling a prank on me. I replied, of course! I just admire his dedication to what he's doing and I respect his work ethics.”
A dedicated and hardworking man himself, Turner County born Terrell says he's enjoyed the advice of others and has used it to advance his own career. But after Terrell earned his diploma in business machines, the light sepia haze of rural South Georgia didn't quite compare to the opportunities awaiting him in the state's capitol.
“Everyone gets somewhere in life where they help someone else,” says Terrell. “I had an instructor who kept telling me about a program called RESA (Regional Educational Service Agency) and how good it was. But I didn't want to work in South Georgia. I told him I wanted to go near Macon or Atlanta for some of the concerts. But I eventually listened to him when he said I needed to take a state job. So I came down here and worked with RESA for about 15 years.”
After requesting RESA’s support on a project, Val Tech asked for more of the company's assets and recruited Terrell to the college's IT department. “Val Tech asked the director of RESA if we could repair some of their equipment, which led to a relationship between several instructors and myself — including Sally Dorminy, Jerry Smith, and Dr. Ken Kennedy – and a full time job out here.”
Several years later, another full time job opened up for a network administrator at the re-branded technical college and the current director of IT, Terrell, was familiar with Brogdon, the perfect candidate.
“I applied when a full-time network administrator job came open over here and Amos and his then-small staff hired me,” Brogdon says.
“We talked about some of the things a network administrator needed to learn and, I tell you, he took it seriously and he's done a heck of a job since he came here,” said Terrell. “We talked about getting certifications in Microsoft Office products, understanding Active Directory, learning Microsoft Exchange and mastering Cisco switches and such. He did his homework. He’s a go -getter.”
Since then, he has filled jobs as registrar and financial aid director. He later moved up to Atlanta to work for the Technical College System of Georgia for a year and a half as project coordinator for Georgia Adult Learners Information Systems, before returning Wiregrass to work as dean of student services, he says.
The two friends kept close contact with one another while Brogdon was working in Atlanta. They share information and bounced ideas off of each other, both personally and professionally.
“Every career move I’ve made since I've met Amos, he's had the foresight and wisdom to give me the pro’s and con’s of every angle — and he's been 95 percent right on them once they've been realized,” Brogdon says. You can definitely see his influence in every step of my career, he adds.
“It’s not often that you find a young person that listens when you offer career advice and it’s been amazing watching him become the man he is today,” says Terrell. “People hear what you say, but sometimes they don't listen. I have a daughter, who's 32 now. But when she was in her twenties, she came out here one day. She said, Daddy I hear how people listen to you and now I'm going to start doing it more.”
They started out in a working relationship, and now have worked through divorces and remarriages as best friends. Terrell's nine-year-old son calls Jarrod uncle and Terrell's two other brothers consider Brogdon to be their youngest brother, but there are subtle differences between the two men.
“One thing about growth is that you'll have to expect things to be difficult and different at some point,” says Terrell. “But you have to commit to finding a solution. So we appreciate being able to look at things from different perspectives. People say a friend is not someone who tells you everything you want to hear.”
And while good friends have the guts to discuss gut-wrenching topics with you, they also prop up their friends when words alone don’t suffice. Brogdon and Terrell’s younger brothers tended the bar when Terrell remarried and, likewise, Terrell was there in Mexico Beach for Brogdon’s wedding and he attends all of Brogdon’s guitar showcases when he performs in town.
Through times good and bad, they’ve relied on each other.
Terrell has a wealth of experience, which comes with age because it obviously takes time, says Brogdon. He has a lot of experience and he is a very wise person, whom I've leaned on quite a bit, says Brogdon.
Sometimes, personally and professionally, you can explode, says Terrell. “It’s always better to get another opinion before tackling a problem head on and a conversation with Jarrod calms me down.”