Photos by Joshwin Raju
“Spicy chicken and a fry! Spicy chicken and a fry?” the red-shirted server calls out. “Would you like any sauces with that? Gotcha—just one or two?”
To some, this voice comes from a nameless employee, but for others, it comes from a campus-known figure: Brandon from Chick-Fil-A. So adored by the students that a picture of his face was taped on a register to welcome him back for the fall semester.
But who is “Brandon from CFA”? Despite what one might assume, Brandon Carner does not attend ORU. He lives a life beyond merely showing excellent customer service at the on-campus Chick-Fil-A, and he puts his pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else.
Born and raised in Sapulpa, OK, 20-year-old Brandon served the hungry people of Subway on the corner of 81st and Mingo for three years. His mother is the district manager over Subway, so it fit perfectly as a mother/son dynamic. Brandon got to work with those unlike him, continuing to bring genuineness into each interaction and relationship.
Brandon has worked at the on-campus Chick-Fil-A since August of 2017. He found himself in the Hamill Dining Center after his mother’s friend directed him to an interview and they loved him, according to Brandon. Since working, Brandon finds himself loving every second of serving the students.
“The community of people is different than the general public,” said Brandon. “The vibe is happy even when students are upset. I think the key role about this location is that the presence of God is always with us—I know that’s cheesy, but it’s true.”
During the summer, Brandon transferred to an independent Chick-Fil-A where he was offered a management position, but he declined the offer because he looked forward to returning to campus. Brandon is unsure of how long he will stay working at Chick-Fil-A due to future plans and dreams.
Brandon received a certification in Web Design from Central Technology Center in Sapulpa, OK. Since he was 12 years old, he has dreamed of becoming a music producer, always messing around with different music genres and editing them. His original plan was to attend school to obtain his bachelor’s degree in music production, but that changed when he met Sarah Sparks, his fiancé.
Brandon and Sparks dated for five months before he proposed this August. The couple visited the Tulsa Botanical Garden, where at Brandon surprised Sparks by “taking a picture” of her faced away and kneeling on one knee when she turned around. With wedding plans and a future to build, Brandon looks to enroll in OU online in the spring for Informational Studies, and he will pursue a career in music production when the opportunity arrives.
“I’m fine with eating ramen while I live alone. I still believe in chasing dreams, and I will continue working on music for now,” laughed Brandon. “I just want to be able to give her everything I can when we live together—that’s what matters for right now.”
Brandon’s fiancé will graduate from ORU in the spring and study law at TU. Although he does not attend ORU, Brandon feels right at home when he chills in the Hammer Center and chats with dozens of students as if he goes to school with them. Being on campus is like seeing the “usuals” in a restaurant, except Brandon’s “usuals” are everyone.
A shock to Brandon, the busiest time for the on-campus Chick-Fil-A appears to be Saturday nights right after Saga shuts down–a heads up for those who crave chicken before it closes on Sundays. Just like customers’ moods, Brandon once put a sparkle in the floor of the Hamill Center when he was given a “massive scrubber” to ride around the lobby.
Comparing ORU with other environments, Brandon noticed the specific aspirations rooted within each of the students and the support they show. Even when Brandon has had discouraging days, he has found opportunities to share his testimony and pray with students. He hopes that if a student walks in after a rough day, they will leave with a smile on their face.
“I’m not gonna see any of these people once they’re gone,” said Brandon. “Once you’ve built some type of relationship with such a tremendous group of people, you miss them when they leave. I won’t be here forever. I will absolutely miss the culture of people that are here. Thank you for the experience.”