Business Administration program grad finds a home at SJVC
Kailynn Parker probably has over 100 brothers and sisters, at least a couple of dozen parents…and lots of experience starting over. The transient life of a foster child is all she has ever known. She has had to plant shallow roots because she might be moved, without notice, to the next place she will try hard to call home.
Now, at 23 years old, Kailynn gets to decide where and how deep her roots will grow, and whom she will call ‘family.’
SJVC has earned that title twice. The first time was when Kailynn was a student in the Temecula campus‘s Business Administration degree program, where she first discovered a family atmosphere. The second time was a few years later, when she joined the campus staff as a member of the First Contact team.
“It doesn’t matter if you are staff or student, we’re just one big happy family,” says Kailynn. “It made me feel a lot more comfortable about being here and doing this job. I see friendly faces every day; everybody is there for whoever needs it.”
There is a big responsibility placed on the shoulders of those in the First Contact positions at SJVC. They make sure that visitors are properly directed to the person who can best help them, sign visitors in, answer and transfer phone calls, and make appointments for Admissions Advisors. An important part of the position is making visitors feel comfortable and welcome.
“Everyone’s first impression of the school is when they walk through the door,” says Kailynn. “Everything starts with First Contact.”
Kailynn especially likes to make prospective and current students feel at ease in whatever they are about to undertake. Sometimes it is an entrance exam; other times, a mock interview exercise to teach students to make a positive and professional impression on a future employer.
In the six months Kailynn has been working part-time at the Temecula campus, she has seen many uncertain and skittish career-seekers come through the front door and settle onto the path that could bring them the success and life they want. Her own path has expanded to include a fervent desire to become an Admissions Advisor at the school.
“With everything I’ve been through, I can relate to them,” she says of those looking for a more stable life. “There is a passion in me to want to see them succeed. Helping people find a career is something I want to be a part of.”
“Kailynn plans to grow professionally and remain with SJVC for many years,” says Robyn Whiles, Campus Director. “She has set her sights on becoming an Admissions Advisor because she truly believes education can change lives.”
Kailynn has earned every bit of the wisdom she has to share with others. Her biological parents lost her and her half-siblings to the foster system before she could have any harmful memories of a household deemed unfit for children. A series of brothers, sisters, parents and houses followed.
“They were, for the most part, really nice families, but had kids of their own and, like, 15 other foster kids at once and didn’t really feel like home,” says Kailynn. “A lot of people think foster kids are troublemakers, but most are just abandoned or taken away because of parents with drug and alcohol problems.”
Kailynn has lived the past year with good friends Tifney – one of her ‘moms’ – and ‘dad,’ Don. It was Tifney who pushed Kailynn through some difficult times; times when she wanted to quit school or quit her job at McDonald’s.
“She told me I can either give up and never know what tomorrow brings, or keep going, give yourself a chance and see what could happen,” says Kailynn. “She made it seem like giving up was not an option.”
Kailynn treasures Tifney’s presence in her life. “Being a foster child taught me responsibility and to be able to be on my own and not to have to depend on anybody,” says Kailynn. “Also, to appreciate the people around you at the moment, because you never know when they can be gone.”
Kailynn also has some well-earned advice for the foster kids she occasionally volunteers with at Foster Care for Riverside County. “Don’t give in to negativity or stereotypes,” she cautions. “Pick a future for yourself and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.”
It is a message that Kailynn will spend a career offering to others.