Community college is a great chapter of your life

From the Clinton Herald

Editor’s Note: April is Community College Month. To celebrate, the Clinton Herald throughout April will publish guest columns from Clinton Community College’s faculty, staff members and students.

When I graduated from Clinton High School, I was ready to hit the ground running in Clinton Community College’s nursing program. I was succeeding in anatomy and physiology classes, and I was fascinated by medicine.

But at the end of the day, it didn’t have my heart. Not like writing did. So after a year of nursing classes, I decided to follow my heart to writing. Journalism, specifically.

I joined the CCC newspaper, The Gallery, run by instructor Beth Hafner, and went from staff writer to editor-in-chief. I graduated in 2005, then attended St. Ambrose University for my bachelor’s and the University of Iowa for my master’s, both in journalism. In that time, I served as a local newspaper reporter in the Quad-Cities and Muscatine, and even taught news writing at Scott Community College.

Because I never want life to get stale, I decided a new challenge was on the horizon, and found my way into web writing.

After several roles in web development, from copywriter to product strategist, today I’m a content strategist for Lullabot, a remote-based Drupal web developer and agency. As a content strategist, I help my clients make sense of their web “stuff” – organizing pages, navigation, and content that connects with real people. My 50-plus coworkers are around the world. Our clients range from NBC and The GRAMMYs to IBM and New York University School of Medicine.

It’s been a wild ride, and community college taught me everything along the way.

Community college taught me the value of diversity: Meeting and collaborating with people from all different experiences and walks of life is such a benefit of community college. My coworkers remind me a lot of my classmates from CCC – all curious, friendly, and ready to learn. These qualities bring with them incredible insights into your own life.

Community college taught me to explore: I went from nursing to journalism. But my journey to find where I belonged, my curiosity and knack for asking questions leant me skills I used today, interviewing stakeholders and conducting user research. Fact-finding missions help me learn how to make a user’s online experience better.

Community college taught me to be flexible: Smaller classes in community college mean more group work, and in web development, collaboration is key. And juggling classes with work, home, and family life is a necessity. But being flexible, being open with your classmates and instructors, are essential in my work today, especially with remote colleagues around the world.

Community college taught me to focus: Taking classes, holding down a job, making time for your family – all of those things take focus. In a remote-only job, my colleagues and I meet in Zoom and Slack. I sometimes have to juggle more than one project at a time. All these things take focus, attention, and care.

For any readers out there considering community college or who are in the midst of your community college career: Keep going. Ask the questions. Take the classes. Explore all the things. It’ll take you amazing places. It’s one chapter of many you won’t regret writing.

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