Q&A with Enrollment Services Director Daron Colbert
As Enrollment Services Director for San Joaquin Valley College’s Bakersfield campus, Daron Colbert is on the front lines of a team dedicated to guiding and supporting would-be students during their career exploration, program decision-making and eventual enrollment process.
Daron wants potential and new students on the Bakersfield campus to know exactly what to expect in their Business, Medical, and Technical programs and the support they can count on to bolster their career success.
How do you influence the student enrollment process?
My job is to empower Admission Advisors to guide and support their (potential) students and to help make the enrollment process smoother. Sometimes there are student circumstances such as work schedule conflicts, family responsibilities, financial aid barriers or potential struggles because of physical disabilities.
I supervise Admissions Advisors and do my best to support that team and mitigate their challenges. Our Advisors are student-centered and invested in student success.
I help our Advisors realize their own potential and abilities by providing coaching, feedback, reassurance, and recognition. I want our team’s culture to be warm and inviting – like a family.
How does that culture impact students?
SJVC wants to meet students where they are. (At the Bakersfield campus), we offer most programs at various times of the day: morning, afternoon, and evening sessions. We do our best to accommodate the demands and needs of our community because we want them to be able to take advantage of an accelerated experience.
What makes SJVC different from other career education/training colleges?
SJVC wants to understand what is happening at every level of student experience – enrollment to graduation. And, we are constantly soliciting feedback from staff, faculty, students, and graduates, looking for ways we can improve. We are always looking for ways to better communicate and deliver education toward a positive career outcome. SJVC never relaxes their self-evaluation and has a hi-performance culture at every level.
What is the greatest obstacle for someone exploring education toward a career change?
No matter what they might say is the reason they can’t start school, the root of it is usually a fear of failure. It is our job to help them see and crystalize a better version of themselves. They have to be realistic about the sacrifices they might have to make and if they’re prepared to make those sacrifices. Finally, we need to prepare them for what they can expect when they get here.
How do you measure your professional success?
I like to think of myself as someone who takes the initiative. I’m task-oriented and like to see things through to conclusion. I am a problem-solver so when I’m able to say, ‘Wow, we did it!’, that’s very gratifying.
When my Admissions Advisors see their involvement really help a student, or realize their own potential on some level, they can feel like they’re on a team where they are encouraged to be vulnerable enough to fail and grow. That’s where and when I feel the best.
What keeps you motivated?
People need people, but it starts with you. I came from a single-parent household with five kids. My mom (Roberta) didn’t make excuses about an inability to do things. She did a thankless job and had a strong work ethic. What I took away from having that strong example every day is: I can’t control anything else but my effort; my desire to do good work and take care of my family.
I can’t always directly impact change…but I can influence it.
What inspires you to do well in your position at the college?
My family (Keena, Keyli-14, Nasir-11, Sadiq-3). I want my kids to value education and to have a strong work ethic. I believe you can’t find self-fulfillment until you’ve been of some service to other people. You need to help others at some point to satisfy your purpose.
Do you feel that sense of purpose in your work?
I had a student who came in at her lowest point and felt trapped in her life. In her early 20s, she got pregnant, and her parents kicked her out. She was living with her boyfriend and his parents who had nine kids. They (and their newborn son) shared a bedroom with several of his siblings. She didn’t even have a driver’s license.
But she had a vision of her life. I told her, ‘Let’s think about what you can do.’ She went through our Business Office Administration program. She came back a year later just to talk to me. “My life is completely different now,” she told me. She works for a Literacy Program and helps others with GED testing and getting their high school diplomas. They had just had their first home built.
Being an Admissions Advisor is doing right by a student. And, even if I’m not seeing the outcome, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t great things happening out there.
We invite you to learn more about Daron! Find out what SJVC means to her and what inspires her to succeed everyday.
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