Owens Community College (OH)
How did you become the Assistant Dean at Owens Community College? What got you interested in this field?
I started at Owens as a supervisor in Testing Services, managing testing specialists and working with college stakeholders and students. From there, I became the Director of Admissions, and eventually, where I am now! Prior to Owens, I worked for a Fortune 500 company as a sales manager, and then a fundraiser for a non-profit. With those organizations, I was working with colleges, whether they were a customer, or working with students to raise funds through signature events. I was always “connected” to a college, but never an employee. When my first position at Owens presented itself, I jumped at the application, and I’ve been here ever since.
You’ve been a big advocate for community colleges and their role in higher education. How did you get involved in advocacy work?
Without even realizing it, I grew up in career technical education. My family was rooted in the automotive industry in Northeast Ohio, and I used to watch students work along my father at the dealership. I grew up watching him train and teach automotive courses. In fact, I learned to my ride my bike in one of the training centers. However, I was not the student who took career tech courses. After I graduated with my master’s degree, and really started my career, my eyes were opened to the need in the community, and the real stigma that exists for those students who want to study at a community college. The US is standing on the edge and without a significant shift, we will not have the workforce necessary maintain and grow our country. In Northwest Ohio, we are hearing from industry partners about how they are struggling to find employees. Community colleges provide a firm foundation – whether it is for a student looking to move into the workforce immediately after graduation, or to continue on to their bachelors. We are unique in our opportunities, regardless of the student’s end goal.
How does NACAC play a role in your career?
I look to NACAC to help provide guidance as we muddle through enrollment management and to help with disseminating the ever changing legislation. Because I am so passionate about the opportunities a community college provides, I have been rather vocal in regards to government relations and funding. NACAC and OACAC have been a great support as we have navigated the local and federal legislative changes.
Do you have any advice for professionals who are new to the field?
First, be prepared for change – constant change. The only thing consistent is change! Second, this career is so rewarding, but make sure you make time for yourself, too.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing counselors today?
High school counselors are doing so much more than what their career field used to include. They are often juggling testing, dual enrollment, graduation requirement changes, as well as higher incidences of bullying, suicide, and the emotional crises that exist in a high school environment. On the other side, admission counselors are trying to juggle enrollment targets, changes in student outcomes, and providing support to the high school counselors. I have always joked we need a support group, but in reality, it is the truth.
When you aren’t working, what do you like to do?
I am currently working on my dissertation for my doctorate of education at Bowling Green State University, so I would remiss if I did not say I enjoy working on that (when in reality, I would rather be binge-watching Netflix!). I sing with Masterworks Chorale, which is the premier vocal ensemble in Toledo. I am also a 20-year volunteer with Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership, so you can often find me at a seminar working with high school students. I also listen to my husband on the radio – he is a sports broadcaster.
If you could be any fictional character, who would it be and why?
Miss Hannigan from Annie! That is my dream role in any production.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I encourage all who are new to the field of higher education to become in NACAC, or your local organization. It helps to bridge connections across institutions. It’s a relief to know I can call on any of my counterparts for support, advice, or information – and that is all because of the common work we do together with NACAC and OACAC.
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