Bronco Spotlight: Erin Patrick

Master of Arts, educational leadership, 2014, Bachelor of Arts, organizational communication, 2004

Current Job Title:

Dean of Early College

Current Employer:

Muskegon Community College

Describe your current job:

The Early College of Muskegon County allows select students the opportunity to extend high school by one year, and earn their associate's degree from Muskegon Community College at the same time as their high school diploma. I'm responsible for overall program operations, student achievement, marketing and community outreach for this initiative.

What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is watching students evolve into lifelong learners. Some of the students we serve may never have gone on to pursue higher education, and since our program is free for families, it removes that barrier. The most challenging part of my job is having enough resources to services our students. I know most professionals in the field of education have a million great ideas, but not an extra million dollars. If we had additional funding, we would be able to create even more experiential learning experiences for our students. To combat the finance issue, we collaborate with community members and our educational partners as much as we can!

What activities, resources, or people helped you prepare for your career?

The activity at WMU that prepared me most for my career was the opportunity to serve as an officer for a registered student organization (RSO) on campus. I was elected president of the Campus Gift of Life - which creates awareness of organ donation to the WMU campus community. Throughout my tenure in the RSO, I learned how to: canvass a community, raise funds, develop a marketing plan, recruit volunteers, plan events, build relationships and practiced following through on commitments. These are skills that WMU instilled in me that I have used in almost every professional position I've held since graduation.

What advice would you offer students to help them decide on a career path?

I would advise students to hone in on what they're naturally good at. Period. If you're good at math - figure out what kinds of careers cater to that strength. I really enjoyed public speaking, and wanted to decide on a major that would allow me to build off of that interest.  My WMU advisor helped me pick a major (organizational communication) that would allow me the flexibility of being able to apply for many different types of jobs once I graduated, but that centered around utilizing my natural strengths.

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