Durham Tech administrative, support staff ensure student success

Earlier this fall, I touched upon the efforts and accomplishments of some of Durham Tech’s excellent faculty members. In this post, I feature the work of our administrative and support staff—those dedicated professionals whose efforts outside our classrooms help ensure our students’ success within them.

In the past five years, we have seen extraordinary growth in enrollment by recent high school graduates.  Over the last decade, the average age of our student has dropped from over 30 to under 25 because more young people see Durham Tech as their first choice for higher education. Under Patricia’s leadership, Michelle, Keyma, Valarie, Linda and our other College Liaisons have not only delivered that message to every public high school in our service area but also helped current high school students understand the advantages of dual credit through the Career and College Promise program.

Not every student comes to us after graduating from a traditional high school. Betty and Rita are here to provide second chance opportunities for those who dropped out. Meanwhile, Dorene, Vega and Stésha provide access to vital support services on campus and in the community to enable adults who are returning to complete a high school credential or develop new workplace skills be successful.

Outside of our transfer offerings, our most popular program is often nursing.  As the community college of the City of Medicine, Durham Tech has prepared outstanding practical nurses for more than 50 years, and has trained hundreds of registered nurses who now work at Duke, UNC, the Veterans Administration, and the dozens of other health care providers in Orange and Durham counties and the surrounding region. I appreciate Donna’s efforts in streamlining the information given to our students who are interested in nursing. The documents she is designing create a more definitive map to assist students looking at this important career in our community. She and her colleagues in the Admissions and Advising office routinely work well after posted office hours during our busiest registration periods to ensure all our students and potential students are served.

Not every student who enrolls at the College initially possesses the academic tools required for success in our classrooms, labs, and clinical sites. Pat has expanded the Center for Academic Excellence services in the last year to include new Academic Alert tutoring for students in college-level English and math classes. His work and those of his colleagues provides tutoring services so our students can develop the skills they need for success in the classroom.

Students can’t attend class unless their tuition is paid, so I appreciate Liza, Tiffany, Hyacinth, and Belinda for their great work to enable us to arrange for direct deposit for our students’ financial aid refund checks. These members of our business office staff, working with Nadine, Cecil, Justin, Frances, and our other Financial Aid office staff have made it easier for our students to take advantage of the financial aid resources available to them more quickly and easily.

Our students need access to current and pertinent information—and, more importantly, they need to know how and where to access facts in order to make informed judgements. So Julie, Mary, Stephen, and their colleagues help students separate the wheat from the informational chaff in the Educational Resources Center.

Once our students get settled into a routine on campus they look for different ways to stay engaged.  Erin provides tremendous opportunities through her work in the Center for College and Community Service, and Gilbert offers ways for students to feel welcome and connected to their fellow Durham Tech students and their peers at other colleges in the state. Meanwhile, Jamia, Tracey, Carolyn, Toni, and their fellow administrative assistants are a smiling face and helping hand to students and employees alike.

Meanwhile Leslie, Bernie, Jamaal and Ryan meet and greet our students and make them feel at home on campus while keeping a watchful eye out for everyone’s safety and security, while Derek, James, and Tifani respond to and dispatch calls for routine or emergency assistance from our students, employees, and visitors at all hours of the day, every day regardless of the weather.

Away from the main campus, Iesha keeps her colleagues at the Orange County Campus informed of policy and procedure changes to ensure students are well-served regardless of where they are enrolled. And Linda, Melissa, Cynthia and Andrea provide great administrative support for all our employees who work away from the main campus. Meanwhile, on campus, Ms. Veronica and Ms. Alejo take pride in keeping the campus neat and clean.

Most of our employees interact with students and the public to some extent—they are the face of Durham Tech.  But others—the backbone of Durham Tech—rarely have a chance to work with students. But their efforts are just as important to our success. I think about Valerie, who regularly goes above and beyond her duties as an analyst to help other department’s information and processes stay intact as key personnel are in transition. And I think about Amy, who teaches faculty how to implement universal and learning-centered design into new online courses while supporting the complex needs for students who approach learning with various disabilities. And who can live without Rex, who is there in a moment to support you when technology is not working the way you’d hoped?

And there is Liz, who manages more web updates and posts than seems humanly possible, and Marcy, who takes our students’ experiences and transforms them into compelling stories. Meanwhile, there is Marshall and Norb and Don and Dwight and their co-workers in Facilities Services are always around to repair systems that break and replace things that wear out. Paula, our RSVP coordinator, continues to surprise us with her special skills.

Doug, who works in Corporate Services, is one of the most student-centered individuals on campus. He thinks outside the box, and constantly looks for opportunities to identify emerging programming needs. Suzi, on the other hand, realizes how important it is to have clear, efficient, and consistent processes in hiring and managing great employees. She and Patricia ensure that our payroll records are accurate and up to date every month.

Wanda, meanwhile, deals with students who need to drop a continuing education class and are due a refund. She always spends the time students needs to explain our process, and to help our students feel more comfortable because she understands that so many of our students are living with financial insecurity and she is sensitive to the anxiety that such insecurity can create.

Wanda’s attitude exemplifies why our employees are great at their jobs—they understand the challenges and pressures our students face, and they convert that understanding into action that results in excellent service to our students and our community. The folks I’ve mentioned here are by no means the only staff members who provide outstanding support for those who come to Durham Tech. They and their colleagues work every day to complement the excellent teaching that takes place in our classrooms and labs. They do great things, and the enable our students to do even greater things.