The signature line on Christopher Medley’s email says “yours in service,” which is indicative of his personality.
As UofL’s Associate Director for Operations and Facility Services, it’s his job to serve students. But it’s also his passion, and he’s found additional, unique ways to reach out to students and help them be their best selves.
In 2015, he founded the The BourGeoiSie Modeling and Fashion Troupe, “the first group of its kind to ‘pump and strut’ across the campus of UofL,” he said.
Since then, the organization has become a visible part of campus life, participating in such signature campus events as the 2018 International Fashion Show and PINK. The organization is now planning a modeling clinic open to the public.
“Cultivating a presence within the greater Louisville community is very important,” he said.
Medley, who is from Chatham, Virginia, tells his BMFT students “confidence and beauty lies within,” a motto he models daily. He’s always the most dapper dressed in a room and addresses others with a cultivated charm. Everyone is “Mr.” and “Ms.” in his vernacular.
He graduated from Virginia Tech with a bachelor of psychology and a MA in education with a cognate in multiculturalism.
Medley stopped in to UofL News recently to tell us more about BMFT and his thoughts on student involvement and community service.
UofL News: What exactly is BMFT?
Medley: The organization presents the art form of collegiate modeling with its origins at historically black colleges and universities. The integration of traditional runway modeling within the framework of African American culture embodying music, footwork technique and dance sets the stage for an electrifying experience. BMFT is identified via the colors emerald green and old gold, the lion/lioness mascot and motto “Elevate Yourself.”
This organization has become an important part of my identity at the university and within the city. I am fortunate to have 40-plus students on this campus know without a doubt that Medley will challenge and support them to be their best self.
UofL News: What motivated you to start this group?
Medley: I have been fortunate to have the opportunity of connecting my passion for the performing arts and fashion to my professional work and community outreach. As a toddler, I watched my mother play the piano and sing in the church choir. When I entered the second grade she became the elementary cheerleading coach. These early years became the framework by which I evolved into the person before you today. As a lover of the performing arts, I am a classical and jazz vocalist, play trombone, piano and drums. I also volunteer within the world of pageantry as a coach and mentor with the Miss America Organization, Miss USA and Miss Black USA Organization. Continuing with my support of the arts, I have advised a university gospel choir and an all-male Athletic Division I cheer/spirit squad.
Upon my arrival to UofL, I personally felt a void with my connection to students of color. After speaking with several students, I realized that there were not many performing arts organization/styles outside of stepping within the NPHC organizations. I began to dialogue with Ms. Julie Onnembo and Tierney Bates in Student Affairs about the tools/skills to create and sustain a student organization. With their support, I was able to create the foundation for an entity like no other at the institution.
UofL News: What does this kind of student involvement mean to you?
Medley: My long-term involvement in community outreach has been integrated into my work environment and experience at each institution within my career. I am a believer that students should be engaged and connected to their institution in a manner whereby they are not only receiving, but also giving. Student organizations have the ability to be a major connector for students within their campus. They have the ability to give so much to a student’s collegiate experience and become part of the institution’s brand and identity. I ask my student leaders consistently: how are they relevant within the space they live and breathe? What is their purpose?