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Getting to know...Tamara Burgess

Twenty years ago or so, Tamara Burgess was working at a small car lot in Jonesville, SC, when a friend from church told her of an opening at Wofford College, 20 miles away. Burgess drove to the campus and found out the interview process for the job…registrar’s assistant…had technically stopped, but she interviewed anyway. She has been here ever since.

tamara200Born and raised in Jonesville, she married her high school sweetheart Randy, now the senior pastor at Oakbrook Community Church. They have a daughter, Lacey, who is 24.

Burgess loves working at Wofford, loves working with registrar Lucy Quinn on registrations, graduations, office work, etc. She also loves working with the students.

“I’m blessed to work here, I really am,” she says. “God has spoiled me like a brat.”

One of her other loves involves an oblong orb that tends to drive those who love it crazy.

“I LOVE football,” says Burgess. “I’m a big Dallas Cowboys fan and a huge Wofford fan. I’ve always been a big football fan. Matter of fact, I love football and watch it more than my husband does.”

As the wife of a pastor, she is, as you might expect, very involved in her church. She sings there, and sings well (she once was recorded in Nashville). And there’s something else she does through her church that enables her to stay involved in another passion of hers, working with children.

Twice now, people from her church have visited a West African village. The first trip came after Christmas in 2006. Burgess was part of a group that traveled to Niamey, Niger, where they would leave to venture into the bush to start up a sports camp for children.

“We taught soccer to the boys, then hopscotch and duck, duck, goose to the girls,” says Burgess. “Afterward we would teach them Bible stories, such as the crucifixion and resurrection. Teaching is done by story telling in that culture. When we did the crucifixion it really caught their attention as they thought it was real.”

There were giraffes (the rare black and white kind), camels, donkeys and other farm animals found here in America, but it wasn’t a glamorous safari.

“It was not a vacation by any means,” she says. “It was 115 degrees. I never really knew what thirst was until I went out in the African bush.

The group made a second trip there this past Easter and plans on another in Christmas of next year. They partner with a local orphanage and plan to build a wall around the land so that it doesn’t get retaken by the government.

It’s a totally different world from her office on the Wofford campus, and sometimes her experience there comes in handy.

“Sometimes students who are going to Africa will stop and ask for advice,” she says. “I’m happy to share. It’s a very different culture, especially for women.”