NWFSC Raider Village A New Era for Campus Housing

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By Doug Stauffer

Decades ago, Jay Odom started his academic journey at what was then called Okaloosa Walton Junior College in a Volkswagen with no reverse. Fast forward to today, and he is helping to pave the way for a state-of-the-art student housing facility named Raider Village at Northwest Florida State College (NWFSC). This addition will not only change the landscape, but also will impact the student body in unimaginable ways.

In a groundbreaking ceremony teeming with anticipation and enthusiasm, NWFSC commemorated the commencement of construction for Raider Village. This marks a transformative moment in the college’s history as it embarks on providing its first-ever on-campus student housing.

Dr. Devin Stephenson, NWFSC President, led the ceremony, echoing gratitude for the collaborations that have made the project possible. “This college has been incredibly blessed with opportunity, funding, great leadership and passionate students,” he said. “Today, we’re building for the decades to come.”

Jay and The Jay Odom Group deserve special mention among the contributors. Not only did they design the buildings, but they will also build, own and manage Raider Village. Dr. Stephenson highlighted Jay’s deep roots in the institution and immense contributions to the Niceville community. “It’s unbelievable how this [campus] has evolved and grown since I was here,” Jay reflected.

The residential facility will be a game-changer for NWFSC. It bolsters academic performance and retention, infusing an engaging campus life. The college anticipates Raider Village as a significant draw for potential athletes, setting the highest standards for sporting excellence even higher.

The first phase of Raider Village will provide 192 beds equipped with modern amenities to cater to students’ needs. Plans reveal that each unit will comprise four bedrooms, each with its own bathroom, complemented by a kitchen, living area and laundry facilities. Common areas designed for community building will be prevalent throughout.

Expected to be operational by Spring 2025, the three-story building will proudly stand at the front of the 264-acre campus, seamlessly aligning with the existing brick architectural theme.

Beyond the brick-and-mortar, the project stands as a testament to the spirit of collaboration. The combined efforts of The Jay Odom Group, the NWFSC Foundation and Community Bank of Mississippi have been instrumental. Dr. Stephenson highlighted the unwavering commitment and financial support of the NWFSC Foundation and recognized Jonathan Ochs, Vice-Chair of the Foundation Board, for his indispensable role as the liaison.
Reflecting on his journey, Jay mused about the past, “From where I sat then in the 1970s to now, I did not have the vision at that time to know that I’d be here today being able to contribute to the community.” But he has, and Raider Village stands as a beacon of progress and promise, ensuring that future generations will benefit from a world-class facility.

In the words of Dr. Stephenson, this groundbreaking event is not just about laying the foundation for a building. It’s about laying the foundation for the future of NWFSC and the thousands of students it will nurture.

May I add one last caveat? I am another one of the many proud alumni of Okaloosa Walton Junior College—now, Northwest Florida State College.