As Richmond Community College approaches 50, I find it to be the perfect time to trade in my computer for gardening tools and move aside so someone new can dig a bit for the history of the college and prepare for the big anniversary event. Looking through old news releases, talking with retirees, and refreshing our image will allow that person to take ownership of RCC’s marketing position and gain an appreciation of the great college he or she will be promoting.
RCC has made a true difference in the lives of thousands of students and their families. A decade ago, a study was commissioned that indicated one in 11 adults in Richmond and Scotland counties had taken at least one class at RCC. That was before most of the industries went offshore and hundreds of adults found themselves in RCC classrooms looking for new skills. Our enrollment boomed. I imagine that statistic is now about one in nine adults have taken a class with us and are pretty thankful we’re here.
My role in life has been to tell people about the opportunities available at RCC. I have had a wonderful job here since 1979 and met the cream of the crop of our students. They have been very generous in sharing their stories so others may become inspired to try to better themselves. I recently spoke with a man who said he loves RCC. He said we literally pulled him up from the depths of poverty. He now has a great job and is respected by his peers. We provided the opportunity, he earned everything he has.
He reminded me of the first meaningful compliment I received at work. I wrote an article about a grocery store employee who had lost her job, come to RCC for an accounting degree, and found another job. A woman walked in off the street with the article in her hand and told the receptionist, “This is me. I’m just like this woman. Can you help me, too?” And, we did.
That brings me to the faculty, staff, and administration of the college. Even the most recent articles I’ve written included testimonies from students about how much their instructors mean to them. That includes college, GED, and industry students. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a degree or just taking one class, you are an RCC student, and we care about you.
I’m proud of the college’s recent growth. We have changed with the times and are experiencing some growing pains. We need more room to offer programs requested by business and industry so students can get the education they need to perform those jobs. Food trucks park on the student patio and provide meals for those of us who don’t have time or the ability to run off campus to grab a bite. We desperately need a new building with a hot food facility. Yes, we’ve grown that much.
I’m the last of the third round of employees hired at what was Richmond Technical Institute. It’s been a long time since I developed black and while film in the darkroom and pecked out the Dean’s List on an electronic typewriter. The Internet changed everything. I have interviewed out-of-state graduates over the telephone, had them e-mail a photo of themselves, and sent the finished news releases to the media. Now, we also post it on Facebook and our webpage, too.
I encourage you to support the college in all of its endeavors. You may not think you have any connection to RCC, but think again. The firemen, EMS, and law enforcement personnel who come to your aid are probably RCC alumni. Nurses, child care providers, social workers, teachers, customer service representatives, and business owners you meet may be RCC alumni. You just never know.
I wish my replacement well. This has been a rewarding job, and I have worked with some great people. I’ll miss them and will keep them in my heart. Take care of our college!