By Samantha Lund ’16
When walking into the Women’s Center, a student is greeted with the smiling face of a student assistant behind the desk, a very happy little dog, and the familiar face of Jennifer Warwick. Warwick is the victim advocate for the center. Victim advocacy is her job, but it does not encompass what she does. What the married, mother of two, does, is help people.
It is clear that Warwick cares about people. From the moment I entered the room with her she started listing off facts about my life, none of which I had told her. Warwick pays attention and knows the students of PLU. Sitting on a beige chair, dog in her lap; there was an effortlessness sense about her. Warwick, the self-proclaimed introvert, has an apparent gift of making someone feel at home with her.
The 2002 PLU graduate explained how she fell into the life she has now. While at PLU she stumbled through six different majors until she realized all she wanted to do was help people. After graduating from PLU, Warwick attended the University of Washington to get her masters in Social Work.
Warwick said “I didn’t even know about the Women’s Center when I attended PLU.” After getting her masters she heard about a job opening at PLU and just applied, unaware of what opportunities it might bring. What she ended up getting was her dream job.
Warwick returned to PLU to create her own position from scratch as a victim advocate. She used her creativity and need to help people to create modern, relatable programs to get students involved in awareness. Warwick said “We have to have a different conversation with students now than we used to.” when talking about her modern-take on social issues “It is not all about ‘If you have sex you will get diseases and pregnant’ anymore.” Warwick says that she wants to create the kind of understanding school she would want her daughters to go to.
Warwick works to help any and every student. Gailon Wixson, sophomore social work major, said “She helped me to feel more welcome on campus.” Wixson has met with Warwick before and talks about how friendly she always is. Wixson also attends and appreciates many of the Sex+ lectures the WC puts on.
Wife and mother of two girls, ages 10 and 13, Warwick stumbled into her home life just as she stumbled into her job at PLU. While working her way through college, Warwick worked at a soccer center where she met her husband. She said she refused to date anyone who played soccer there. If it was not for her friend who pushed her to give this nice man a chance, she would not be where she is now. Her husband, a PLU student, returned to school in his 30’s and is now a Lute as well. Warwick’s husband is on the Budget Committee and heads the Finance Club. She says she is glad he’s here but hopes he does not end up working at PLU after he graduates.
Being a Lute runs in her family, Warwick said she would be happy if her children decided to attend PLU as well. She hopes that by then PLU will be even more progressive and an even more understanding place. Her goal is to create a campus where any victim feels comfortable asking for help.
PLU is Warwick’s home away from home and she genuinely cares for each person here. She has built relationships with faculty. Warwick believes that building relationships in a small school like PLU gives a person influence. It is easier for her to help people, she said, if she is friends with the faculty and can ask them to help her out sometimes. Being an introvert, Warwick said she had to force herself out of her shell to make friends around campus because she knew it would help her to help others.
Warwick hopes to continue knocking down barriers at PLU and setting a precedent for helping any victim, any time.