Hunter Epperson ~ Staff Writer
Andrew Devening, or Drew, is a Lynchburg native who has hit the ground running since starting at the University of Lynchburg as the case manager and wellness educator.
He is also co-chair for Peer Advocates For Campus Education (PACE) and director of the STEP-UP program, which is a new program that was implemented to raise awareness and training against bullying, hazing, domestic violence, harassment, and assault at the University of Lynchburg.
Devening was raised in Lynchburg and graduated from E.C. Glass High School in 2008 before attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), where he originally planned to major in physics, before switching and obtaining a degree in psychology in 2012.
After graduating from Virginia Tech, Devening moved back to Lynchburg. He worked at the restaurant Market At Main while commuting to Longwood University. Here, he received his master’s degree in counseling education with a school counseling track. Post-graduation, Devening moved to Winchester, Virginia, where he worked as a school counselor.
“I did not feel settled in Winchester. Being young, single, and having family and friends back in Lynchburg, I wanted to move back. I was also ready for a change from school counseling … it was lots of scheduling and duties, and not as much time for hands-on with students and helping them,” explained Devening.
“With my current position (as a case manager and wellness coordinator), my position is similar to school counseling, where students come to see me, and I help guide them in the right direction to get the proper help they need. My current job also allows me to focus on students’ mental health and help them with their needs and concerns. As a school counselor, I mostly met with students who were academically struggling or dealing with truancy, etc. What I enjoy as a case manager and wellness educator is focusing more on the well-being of the student, mentally and physically,” said Devening.
Outside of work, Devening is an avid fan of watching soccer, especially the English Premier League and Arsenal. He also spends time cooking, gardening hot peppers, making hot sauces, and watching movies and television such as “Game of Thrones,” “The Mandalorian,” “WandaVision,” and Christopher Nolan movies. He even traveled to England and saw Arsenal play before the COVID-19 pandemic.
When not watching television or movies, cooking, or watching soccer, Andrew is a big fan of Marvel. He says that Thor is his favorite, and Hawkeye is his least favorite. Drew also loves to read.
“I like Stephen King’s short stories a lot, especially because I grew up with parents who enjoyed Stephen King,” said Devening. He also enjoyed reading the Ender Games series. “I am also a fan of Harry Potter and read those a lot growing up since they came out when I was in elementary school. If I had to classify myself into a Hogwarts house, I would probably say Ravenclaw. If I had to pick a favorite Harry Potter book from the series, I would say Prisoner of Azkaban.”
When not working or not doing his other hobbies, he said, “I love going out to eat in Lynchburg, especially [to places] such as El Jefe, Mi Patron, Rivermont Pizza, Small Batch, and The Cavalier to hangout and eat. When I go to Rivermont, my favorite thing to order is ‘the Ricky,’ a pizza which is topped with sausage, goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and drizzled with pesto.”
Devening said, “[Lynchburg is a] welcoming and close place where faculty and staff want what is best for the students, and take pride in what they do. I also love that I help students during difficult times, but most importantly help and work with college students to help improve their experience.”
Most importantly, he added, “I want students to know that I am here to help them, and I am not focused on disciplinary actions. I know a lot of people see that I work in the Dean of Students Office and that when I reach out to them, they might think they are in trouble, but that is not the case.”
“Drew is kind, easy-going, and helpful,” said Jamie Smith, a fellow wellness coordinator and colleague of Drew at the university. Smith stated, “Some strengths Drew brings to the [health and wellness] department is that he is a great listener and team player. As a colleague, he is responsible and diligent in his work.”
Devening can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org