Online staffer gets maternal with medical students
As Clinical Requirements Coordinator for the Online division’s medical programs, Connie Stowell gets in touch with her maternal instincts. “I’m part mom and part cheerleader to get students to focus on giving me their documentation of immunization so that they can pass along to the next step,” she says of her process to fulfill an important student requirement for externship.
Although it feels like “corralling little chicks” Connie keeps her students on point and, along the way, close bonds begin to develop. “From the first day of their program on, I’m with them.”
Online Medical Assisting and Clinical and Administrative Medical Assisting students tend to be predominantly female and at both ends of the age spectrum. “I’ve got 18-year olds out of high school and women in their fifties going back to school to get back into the workforce,” says Connie. “Many are getting a divorce and find themselves ill equipped to earn a living.”
Connie often finds herself in the role of listener – like any good parent. “They’re not sitting in the corner crying, they’re ready to get out there and rock and roll,” says Connie. “I consider myself kind of worldly and can pretty much relate to everybody. Women today are pretty courageous and meeting them half-way is easy.”
“Connie always looks out for the underdog and is the first person to spring into action if someone is in need,” says Kerrie Liles, Dean of Student Services on the Visalia campus.
Connie can relate because she spent much of her adult life on the other side of the career fence. “I never did anything that resembles the job I have now,” she says. “I did warehouse jobs and worked in a plant nursery. But it reached a point where I couldn’t do that kind of work anymore, and you have to mellow down a little bit.”
Cindy, Connie’s life partner of 21 years, was very supportive. “She has been my rock through everything, encouraging me every step of the way and giving me the confidence I needed,” says Connie.
SJVC has always had a lot of appeal to Connie. “My sister (Wendy Mendes) is Vice President here, so I grew up hearing about SJVC,” says Connie. “My sister gave me some pamphlets, I took a tour and went ahead and applied for the Business program. It was that whole helping people better themselves, kind of vibe. I enrolled that day and haven’t looked back.”
Shortly after earning her degree, Connie decided to apply for a position at SJVC. She went through ‘nerve-wracking interviews’ before she got the good news. “No one was more surprised than my sister,” laughs Connie. In the four-plus years since, she has steadily grown in skill, aptitude and positions held.
“I’m old school, so I’m learning all the new technology right along with everyone else,” she says. “Online opens up all kinds of windows for all kinds of people. You can pick a profession and do it all online.”
What Connie likes best about her Online role is the many faces and facets of the students with whom she interacts. “Honestly, it’s the diversity of the people I talk with,” she affirms. “I get to touch base with people all over the nation and see the difference in manners, vocabulary, what they aspire to, depending on where they live. I think that’s just fascinating.”
Connie stays motivated for her students. “A lot of them have adversity in their lives that you wouldn’t believe,” she says. “If they can get up and put their time in, so can I. Maybe my being there is going to help make that happen for them.”
She knows first-hand that it takes courage to start something new, to make life-changing plans. She has her own role models that guided her decisions and supported her dreams of a better future.
“My hero is a cross between my mom (Peggy), my sister and someone I haven’t met yet,” says Connie. “My mom was widowed at thirty-three, with four kids at home, and she made it. She went to college when she was fifty-two. My sister stuck it out when the college went through hard times years ago because she believed in what they were trying to do. I don’t know anybody yet with other qualities of my hero, but somebody out there has them.”
Connie turned 55 a few days ago and with that birthday came greater contentment.
“I am getting up there in the golden years,” she says. “If I were twenty again, look out! People would be in trouble. But, for who I am and where I am, I am right where I need to be.”
Maybe who and where she is right now, reflect a little bit of hero to untold others.