Computer tech Sue Simmons enjoys helping students
Sue Simmons always enjoys hearing from former RCC students who are fulfilling their goals.
“I love the way Rogue is a springboard to success,” Simmons said. “And I love helping train people in the computer field and then watching them succeed after they leave Rogue and go on to big things.”
RCC grad Mike Costello considers Simmons, a Helpdesk technician, as his mentor and appreciates how she’s supported and encouraged his efforts.
“I learned a lot of organizational and communication skills from Sue. And she’s always good at defusing those tense situations that can happen when computers crash,” said Costello. “Without the classified staff, RCC wouldn’t work.”
Simmons first came to RCC in 1994 as a student after having worked in electronics assembly.
She earned two specialist certificates — network and software — at RCC, was a student worker, and then was hired to help operate RCC’s computer labs. She also helped plan and lay out the Riverside Campus computer labs, which opened in 1997.
In 2000 she moved into her current role as a Helpdesk technician and has aided numerous students to get ready for work and life.
Mike Costello meets obstacles head on
Perseverance and resilience have kept Mike Costello moving forward through life’s challenges, setbacks, and losses, both big and small.
Costello faced “a fear of numbers” — his age — when he first enrolled at Rogue Community College in 2002. “I was worried about being twice the age of all the other students, of being the ‘old fart,’” he recalled. But Costello, who was 34, immediately realized he was about the average age among RCC students and that his life experience was an asset, not a liability.
Yet 17 years had passed since high school, and he needed to relearn study skills, especially budgeting homework time. Bright Futures, an RCC program that guides students entering college, helped him build expertise and a positive outlook.
“They provided moral and emotional support, so I was ready for traditional academics,” Costello said. A computer science major, he went on to prove his resolve by earning a 3.9 grade point average, and in 2006 he was named an Outstanding Student Scholar. The Oregon Community College Association presents the award annually to two students from each of Oregon’s 17 community colleges. RCC staff members nominated Costello for his scholastic achievements, college activities, and service.
“I was amazed that every instructor I had at RCC went above and beyond,” Costello said. “RCC instructors are caring and willing to go the extra mile to see us succeed. They have a genuine interest in student success.”
While Costello says a number of people were important to him — particularly Business Technology instructor Joyce Graham, Computer Science instructors Cindy Patterson and Dian Brandenburg, and Discovery Programs coordinator Pam Green — Sue Simmons, a Helpdesk technician, was his mentor.
“Sue was always pulling for me and a big supporter. I learned a lot of organizational and communication skills from her, and she’s always good at defusing those tense situations that can happen when computers crash,” Costello said. “Without the classified staff, RCC wouldn’t work.”
While college posed challenges that Costello overcame with faculty and staff support and through his own perseverance, a more critical trial came when his wife Rosi was killed in January 2008. A windstorm that slammed into the valley toppled a tree onto her car while she was driving to work. They were married 12 years; their daughter, Sammi, is now 13.
“Sammi’s strength helped see me through,” Costello said. “She definitely is my hero.”
Again Costello rebounded. He met Kellie Anne, and in May 2009 they were married. They are merging their families, now comprised of her two children and his daughter and stepson Jason.
On another positive note, Costello completed his associate’s degree at RCC in June 2009. “It’s good to get completion and finish,” he said. “My late wife played a huge role in encouraging me, and I wanted to get it done in her honor.”
Costello now finds himself being tested again. He recently was laid off from the company where he’d worked three years as network administrator and software support specialist. His job, which Costello says he really liked, was outsourced. But he plans to use skills and resources he gained at RCC to keep moving forward, and he’s considering pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer science. “I always want to learn new things,” he said.
More importantly, Costello is drawing on the life-affirming lessons he says have helped carry him forward: “Don’t sweat the small stuff. Live for today. And don’t assume your loved ones know you care,” he said. “I’m applying those lessons now.”
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