Counseling secretary serves as mentor to students
Serving as “proof that it is never too late” to get an education delights Tammi Spencer.
“What I enjoy most about RCC is working with traditional and non-traditional students and helping them see the importance of education,” said Spencer, an advanced secretary with the RCC Counseling Department. “And I enjoy being able to help them achieve their goals.”
Before joining Rogue nearly six years ago, Spencer worked in the Southern Oregon University Admissions Office and for a non-profit organization providing affordable housing to low-income families. Since coming to RCC, she’s reached some major goals herself.
“Rogue has changed my life in so many ways,” Spencer said. She earned an Associate of General Studies degree in 2006 and went on to complete a bachelor’s degree in sociology at SOU. Students say Spencer has helped them transform their own lives.
“She’s a great role model,” said RCC graduate Amanda Holbrook. “Tammi helped me learn a sense of professionalism and how to speak up for myself.”
For her part, Spencer says it’s gratifying to observe Holbrook’s progression.
“I really enjoy mentoring my student assistants like Amanda. She has accomplished so much since first starting at Rogue and has made so many positive changes. She has grown into a confident woman.”
discovered her own power at RCC
discovered her own power at RCC
“Hard work really pays off, and education is power.”
Those lessons in tenacious effort and the meaning of education, says Amanda Holbrook, were her biggest takeaways from Rogue Community College.
After graduating last June from RCC with a 3.7 GPA, Holbrook transferred to Southern Oregon University where she continues to work hard. A sociology major, Holbrook is taking 16 hours of classes and working in the university’s Human Resources and Sociology Department offices.
Holbrook, now 24, says working as a student employee in RCC’s Counseling Department helped her stay in school, thrive, and discover her own power.
“I greatly enjoyed being a Student Services Assistant. Working on campus just made me feel more involved and part of the college,” she recalled. “I knew what was going on and met lots of the staff. It helped me evolve as a young woman and as a college student.”
At one point, however, it was far from clear that her future would turn out well, let alone hold college and academic success.
High school was a rough spell, as she struggled with drug abuse, dropped out, then graduated from an alternative high school. At 18, Holbrook says, she “went way off the deep end.” However, at 19, she faced a “moral dilemma. I just knew what I was doing was wrong.”
Now five years into a life clean and sober, Holbrook radiates a positive outlook. “I’m really excited about my prospects and I am looking forward to the future,” she declared.
Before coming to RCC, she’d worked two years at a Medford manufacturing plant, making aluminum computer stands.
“I was earning OK wages, but I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere, with no benefits, and no career goals.” Deciding on college, she opted for RCC based on convenience and affordability, but also smaller class size.
“I had a lot of fear around having dropped out of high school,” she recalled. “I wasn’t sure I could handle a university.”
Once at RCC, though, Holbrook benefitted from the one-to-one attention. “The staff were the best thing about RCC. They’re caring and helpful,” she noted. “They take time to help you."
“Rogue raised my comfort level. My first year, I spent a lot of time in the Tutoring Center working on math. It’s a very big asset. I felt very prepared for SOU.”
In particular, Tammi Spencer, the Counseling Department’s advanced secretary, helped Holbrook, serving as a key mentor.
“She’s a great role model. Tammi helped me learn a sense of professionalism and how to speak up for myself,” said Holbrook. “Before RCC I was very timid. I didn’t know how to approach people. I learned about assertiveness.”
She also appreciates how Spanish teacher Dorcas Herr works with students. “If you let her know you’re struggling she focuses on you and makes sure you comprehend. Dorcas doesn’t leave students behind.”
Taking RCC workshops on scholarship writing and interviews paid off, first with an AAUW scholarship from the college’s foundation.
Then Holbrook received a Ford Family Foundation scholarship, providing up to $10,000 a year for her undergraduate education. And if she maintains a 3.6 GPA, she can be eligible for graduate school assistance. One way or another, though, she knows where she’s heading. And that hard work will get her there.
“My goal is to get my degree master’s in teaching,” said Holbrook, “so I can give back to the community.”
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