Some students shuffle across the stage in unlaced sneakers, some totter in high heels. Some stride across with high fives. But my favorites are the ones who carry their children. They remind me most of all why I do what I do.

 Some students shuffle across the stage in unlaced sneakers, some totter in high heels. Some stride across with high fives. But my favorites are the ones who carry their children. They remind me most of all why I do what I do. I work in community colleges because I can help change lives.

My first community college boss told me that the purpose of education was to learn what it is to be human. Since then, my life has been a never-ending learning experience – with students from all over the world, faculty in a constantly evolving array of programs, and community and business leaders as my teachers. They have made me conscience of differences that can’t always be observed. They have challenged my assumptions about learning. They have made me acutely aware of the consequences of my actions, especially when those actions seem to be about numbers on a page.

My journey in community colleges has taken me from paraprofessional assistant to president, and now to running leadership programs for others to follow in my path. I have had many trials along the way, but they are dwarfed by the joy of making a difference.

This essay and portrait is part of a community-art and leadership project called “wdydwyd?” Tony Deifell (KNLP-16) invited his colleagues in the Kellogg Fellowship to reflect on what motivates them to follow their personal and professional paths by answering the question, “Why do you do what you do?”


“wdydwyd?” has reached over 1.5 million people worldwide and it has been used for team-building at Google, Twitter, many colleges and universities, nonprofits and K-12 classrooms. And, according to Wired Magazine, “In Silicon Valley, that question has been the hottest team-building meme since Outward Bound – and it’s spreading.” For more information: http://wdydwyd.com/leadership.


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