After 50 years of service, Alexis Johnson, postal specialist, to retire from Virginia Tech
By Alexa Briehl and Christy Myers
Whether making the leap from Housekeeping to Mail Services, navigating a computer for the first time, or traversing a brand new roundabout on campus, Alexis Johnson, postal specialist, always embraces learning experiences as they arise.
Embracing change and growth opportunities – often with a laugh – has been a guiding mantra for Johnson in her 50 years at Virginia Tech.
Johnson first joined Virginia Tech as a housekeeper in 1970. While she planned on staying in the role – and at the university – for only two years, when asked to fill in for an employee in Mail Services out on extended medical leave, she said yes.
What started out as a position sorting and organizing mail for students and faculty, evolved into a long-term career with Mail Services. Johnson has performed a range of roles and responsibilities within the department; among them as meter operator, postal assistant, and in her current role, Departmental Mail postal specialist.
Along the way, she took advantage of chances to learn new skills in every position and adopt new technologies and systems that accompanied them. This even included learning how to use Mail Services’ first computer in the late 1980s.
Along with shifting roles and responsibilities over 50 years, Johnson also witnessed significant changes at the university and events that would help shape Virginia Tech’s history.
For example, just three months into her housekeeping experience, Johnson observed more than 100 students storm Williams Hall and host a sit-in during a period of national civil unrest. As she watched from Pamplin Hall, she saw student participants getting arrested. After the protest, Johnson helped to clean up, picking up sleeping bags, collecting trash, and removing candle wax from the floors.
She has also watched campus’ physical landscape transform and expand, as well as the size of the student body – and kept up with their ever-growing mail needs.
“It has been amazing to watch countless new buildings and facilities go up across campus. I have to laugh remembering the first time I drove through the new roundabout on campus. That was quite the learning experience,” said Johnson.
In the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 emergency, it is almost fitting that her last few months with Mail Services have been filled with a new set of changes in how the department operates.
In her pending retirement, Johnson still plans to get up early as she did for almost 50 years at Virginia Tech, but is excited to slow down in her daily life. She is looking forward to traveling, reading more, and spending time singing in her church choir.
“We’re incredibly grateful for Alexis’ dedicated service to the university community over the past 50 years and wish her the best in her well-deserved retirement. Her compassion for others, humility, and humor will truly be missed,” said Lisa Wilkes, vice president for business affairs.
On her 50 years at the university, Johnson shared with a smile, “It has all been a wonderful experience and one heck of a ride. In fact, a beautiful ride.”
Johnson’s last day at Virginia Tech will be May 26.