The night of January 24th was a big day for Founders hall. It was our second surprise party in two days, but this one was extra special. On that night, Founders said goodbye to its champion: Isaiah “Zay-Zay” Barnfield.
Perhaps most Founders residents know Isaiah best as “Olivia and Rocky’s dad,” but for those of you who don’t know, Isaiah acted as the Founders RD for the past 4 years. Isaiah’s arrival was the beginning of an era. He transformed Founders from a building that had a hard time retaining residents to a building that encouraged community and cultivated relationships beyond the classroom.
Isaiah added so much to Founders. One of the first things Isaiah did was to help RAs transform duty nights into more than just an obligation for RAs, to let people into storage, and respond to calls. He understood that duty nights could be a great opportunity to attract residents to hang out in the lobby. He encouraged building-wide events like karaoke, “speed-friending” (a slight variation on speed dating), obstacle courses, movie nights, and much more. Isaiah was also behind the RA staff music videos that have accompanied the past three Founders Music Video events. All of these contributions worked to build the Founders pride and uniqueness that exists today.
One of the greatest testaments to how much Isaiah encouraged involvement on campus is the amount of Founders residents who apply to become RAs and student leaders. From my hall alone, there were three applicants for RA last year, and I had already announced that I was returning to fill the position on my hall. All class presidents are also currently from Founders. This shows that Isaiah not only made residence life fun, he inspired students to be excited about getting involved on campus, even outside of Founders.
Sure, Isaiah is incredibly musically talented. And sure, he encouraged and inspired great events in Founders. But I am thankful to Isaiah for more than events and cool songs.
When I came to Covenant as a freshman, Isaiah inspired me to start a book study on my hall and mentored me through that process. Sophomore year I continued to meet with him and when my RA stepped down in December of 2017, Isaiah hired me for the rest of the year and I renewed my contract for another year.
Working under Isaiah has developed me as a person and as a leader. He taught me how to minister to others, how to treat others with love even when it means having “crucial conversations,” and most of all, how to have good, clean fun!
I am thankful to Isaiah for reaching beyond his family, his friends, and even his RAs to make a difference in freshman Joseph’s life. I am thankful that he saw something in me that I couldn’t see. Inspiring others comes naturally to Isaiah and I am grateful for the impact he has had on my life as well as on Covenant’s campus.
Isaiah is leaving to work at Unum, an insurance company based in Chattanooga. I wish Isaiah, Hayley, Olivia, and yes, Rocky, all the best. There are so many things I cannot even put into words and there are so many people who I cannot speak for but who share a story similar to mine. So where do we go from here? How do I end this ‘eulogy’ of sorts? I think Gabby Logan, professional RA, said it best: “I’m an engineering major. I don’t know any Shakespeare. Just say Bye-saiah.”