Instructor has high expectations for students
Laura Peterson joined RCC in 1990 as a part-time business instructor at the college's Phoenix Center, now extinct. She was appointed to a full time faculty position in 1996 when Rogue annexed Jackson County and expanded operations.
"The best aspects of teaching are the intrinsic rewards that come when you know you help people transition, reach their career goals, and grow professionally and personally," Peterson said.
Peterson began her college education at Central Oregon Community College, earning an associate's degree in secretarial training. She went on to the University of Oregon where she completed her bachelor's and master's degrees in education.
Before joining the RCC teaching staff, Peterson taught grades one through four for an elementary school in Roseburg for 10 years.
RCC graduate Donna Kimrey says Peterson's encouragement meant a lot to her.
"She expects you to do your best in class and has ways to inspire you," Kimrey said.
Veteran applied military skills toward earning degree
"Teamwork. Being responsible for someone other than just me. Timeliness."
Donna Kimrey counts these qualities among the essential life skills she gained while serving in the U.S. Air Force as an aircraft crew chief.
"Building self-respect was a big one, too," she said, adding that lessons she learned have stood her well in civilian life and helped her land a job she loves.
Between 1984 and 1992, Kimrey served two enlistments. Stationed in Japan, Hawaii, Guam and numerous other sites worldwide, she earned the rank of staff sergeant. Her crew was responsible for maintaining KC-135 Stratotankers, massive aircraft carrying out midair refueling missions. Flawless performance was crucial.
"I took pride in what we were doing because it wasn't a traditional field for women," she said. "It was tough, but I learned things I never thought I'd know. "
Kimrey attended Southern Oregon University for a year after graduating from Phoenix High School, but says she wasn't ready and didn't do well. After working a couple of dead-end jobs, her family encouraged her to consider the military.
"So I met with an Air Force recruiter and signed on the dotted line." Following her service stint, Kimrey lived in Pennsylvania, working in marketing and economic development and assisting a hospital president. She longed to return to the Rogue Valley, however, and moved back in 2000. She worked at an eye care clinic and then at Hellgate Jetboat Excursions as assistant office manager.
Although she'd taken college classes sporadically, Kimrey figured they didn't amount to much.
"My goal initially was to just improve job skills," she said. "Then I realized I was getting close to a degree, and I had people egging me on to complete that goal."
In 2003 she began focusing on RCC's business program. Taking classes part time while working raising two children, now 14, and 21, she completed an Associate of Science degree in 2008 and was immediately hired at RCC's Counseling Department as a secretary. Having a degree along with skills gained in the military, she said, helped her land the position and do her job well.
Now a senior at SOU, Kimrey plans to earn her business degree, with a minor in psychology, through SOU's regional degree completion program, which blends online and hybrid classes.
"I'm chipping away, eight credits a term, but I'll get there eventually," she said. "It's a life goal. I see my degree opening new doors."
Kimrey says the best aspect about attending RCC as a student was the feeling of community.
"I got so much encouragement, especially from Laura Peterson (RCC Business Technology instructor). She expects you to do your best in class and has ways to inspire you," Kimrey said. "And she was instrumental in making sure I took the right classes."
Kimrey is encouraging her older son to attend RCC and her 14-year-old high schooler to take 2+2 Early College Credit classes. She also loves her job, where she also supervises three to five Student Services Assistants each term.
"Working in the Counseling Department is awesome. Almost every student comes through our office. I get to work one-on-one with students," she said. "They're drawn there for answers but also for some cheerleading and emotional support.
"Having been a student at Rogue helps me relate to students and their hurdles," Kimrey concluded. "I tell them I faced the exact same obstacles. I listen to them and help them understand the system."
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