Spartan Spotlight: James Knight

Erin Yandell

Staff Writer

As students, we often don’t think about our UNC Greensboro workers and the work they do to keep the school running smoothly. Some workers go above and beyond their jobs to foster a supportive environment and encourage students in various ways. 

During my time at UNC Greensboro, I’ve noticed the hard work of these employees, which speaks volumes about our university and our mission to promote a positive atmosphere; this is why I’ve decided to interview two Spartan Chariot drivers that have made a difference with their attentive behaviors and considerate attitudes (the second spotlight is to follow). Friendly faces on campus not only provide a feeling of support and community, but they also bring attention to our value of service and care that encourages students and community members to achieve their goals outside of the university setting. 

James Knight is one of our Spartan Chariot drivers that has had a huge impact on students’ experience and is the embodiment of UNC Greensboro’s spirit. Over the years, I’ve noticed how he encourages students and is very considerate, but after my interview with him I uncovered an in-depth look at a selfless, genuine soul. 

Knight has worked various jobs over the years, giving him the freedom to volunteer and serve the community on his own time. In recent years, he was presented with the opportunity to get his CDL or Commercial Driver’s License. This led him to become a driver for the UNCG Greensboro Spartan Chariot System. 

Knight, as described by friends and colleagues, is a jack of all trades. He’s worked many jobs over the years, and this has allowed him to become a part of the Greensboro community in many ways. Service and volunteerism are core values for Knight. He had a part-time job for Salvation Army and continues to volunteer with them as well as various other community service activities such as disaster relief. It’s very important for him to give back because he realizes how other people have helped him along the way and he wants to do the same. With his knowledge of commercial bus driving, he teaches and trains bus drivers for The Boys and Girls Club so they can obtain their CDL too. 

Describing his job, he discusses that there are other opportunities for CDL with a higher pay grade but his job here has given him the flexibility to engage with the Greensboro community and serve social causes such as homelessness. Connections through the Greensboro community informed him of the job opportunity, and he decided that this position is just another way to make a difference in people’s lives and brighten up their day. He started his UNCG journey in 2019 as a part-time driver, and he now works here full-time. 

A typical shift for Knight is driving the Campus Loop route from 3 to 11:30 p.m. with a 30-minute lunch break; depending on the circumstances, like a driver feeling unwell, he may go in a few hours early. He drives for special events that serve the community such as basketball games and commencement, revealing how dynamic his job is. He notes that every driver tries to help each other out which reinforces the strength of our school’s excellent staff. Drivers with more experience give tips to other drivers to help them through their shifts. He describes how drivers are encouraged to take short breaks to get up and stretch their legs. This reflects how our staff and university are concerned for everyone’s well-being, furthering our strong sense of community.

During the interview, when asked how the university has changed over the years, I discovered that Knight is deeply knowledgeable about new programs, expansions and the university’s influence on the students as well as the community. He noted how the construction of the new nursing building has brought in more potential students, and the variety of programs offered establishes UNCG as an institution that aims to improve and expand students’ future opportunities. He has observed the work of the university to provide more students with the opportunity to get the education “they want and deserve”. 

Knight’s interactions on the bus have been overwhelmingly positive. Not only does he strive to help students, but he also helps community members who need assistance with other bus routes. He is the first impression that visitors, guests and parents of prospective students have, and it’s his goal to provide directions, answer questions and do anything else that he can do to help. He wants every person that rides the bus to remember a welcoming experience and that all their questions have been answered. Safety is essential, not only for the students’ safety, but also for pedestrians and other drivers, so he is diligent in being aware of his surroundings and making sure that everything runs smoothly.

His humility shined throughout the entire interview. He asserts that this is just the duty of any Chariot driver, but from personal experience, he goes above and beyond, his thoughtfulness making him stand out. 

Knight makes a point to be observant of his surroundings, noticing interesting traffic patterns and ensuring the safety of the passengers. He is extra careful to ensure that every student that needs a ride can get on the bus. If there’s a student a little distance away, he waits to see if they need to get on before going to the next stop. He makes an effort to wave at everyone. There have been times driving past Yum-Yums when families with kids wave, and he makes a point to smile and wave back. 

Through music, Knight creates a pleasant and welcoming atmosphere. Music plays an important role in everyday life, with different genres speaking to different people and affecting their day. He plays a radio station that features a variety of music to include everyone, “where everyone coming on and off the bus enjoys the little time they’re sitting, waiting to get off the bus, that they have an expression of knowing that it’s something they would listen to,” he says. Pop, country, rock, rap and even heavy metal play through the speakers because, as he says, “everyone should be able to enjoy it.”

Near the end of the interview, Knight discussed that he tries to encourage students’ academic success by discussing study tips and after-graduation plans. He’s had graduated students come back and thank him for the encouraging words. To the best of his ability, he helps everyone, from providing more information about academic programs to showing how to download university apps like the Spartan Chariot Tracker. 

Just when you thought that James couldn’t be more generous and selfless, he told me that he’s often worked with the Spartan Open Pantry, combining his passion for service with his job here at the university. He wants to inspire people by giving back.

He would like UNCG to know that he does his part to encourage students to have access and opportunity to education in the hopes that they are inspired to help others by using their knowledge and experience to become that symbol of support.

This interview opened my eyes to a generous soul and made me appreciate the small, but significant, touches that our drivers make to promote and exemplify our university’s mission of inclusion, service and positivity. 

Categories: featured, Features

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: