Q&A with Senior Admissions Advisor Emma Mendoza
Now in her late twenties, Emma Mendoza has worked most of her life to help financially support the family she grew up with. But as the oldest of five siblings, her most important job has been to set an example for her sisters and brother. Education beyond high school and employment that required a higher level of professionalism was not part of their family experience. She would change all that.
What did you set out to prove to your sisters and brother?
I needed to show them that college was something possible for them to move forward in life. I wanted to show them what it looks like to have higher education goals and career hopes. And I knew that I needed to do more for myself to be that role model for my siblings.
Where did that family influence and responsibility take you?
I knew it was in higher education, but I wanted something shorter than the traditional 3-4 year’s college route. A family member introduced me to SJVC’s Business Office Administration program that she had attended. I’d thought of SJVC as a ‘trade’ school until I realized I could get my Associate’s (Associate of Science) degree.
I enrolled in the Business Office Administration program and graduated in 2012 with my Associate’s degree.
Did SJVC’s Business Office Administration program and A.S. degree change your career options?
Right away. I went to work for SJVC at the Bakersfield campus! I started off as First Contact (front reception desk) and after a year became an Admissions Advisor, helping those interested in enrolling in one of our programs for 8-years. Last year I transferred to Senior Admissions Advisor and since January I’ve been the interim Enrollment Services Director.
Were those big career advancements life-changing and recognized?
Throughout my time here, I’ve received multiple awards and recognition. As First Contact I received ten Circle of Excellence Awards and, as Admissions Advisor I have multiple awards that show the work that I am doing, that includes the Centurion Award – twice – that recognizes top Advisors in the entire company.
In our Admissions department, we like to celebrate one another. Healthy competition is good, but being able to recognize another team member’s accomplishment is always important.
What are your current position responsibilities?
I oversee a team of advisors and engagement coordinators to make sure we have a clear understanding of our enrollment process and are compliant with regulations and enrollment goals.
One of my primary goals is to help our advisors grow into their own careers here, as they impact student lives. I’m involved in observation and supervision to make sure Advisors are providing good customer service to students and following their interactive protocols to a high standard.
What makes SJVC programs so effective for so many?
We provide the education but we also provide job search preparation and training through our Career Services Department. Soon-to-graduates get job search support with resume-writing help, job interview skills, networking and job interview referrals. We place our medical program students with partnering medical facilities for externship (on-the-job training) that can result in a job offer.
We have a literal, open door policy. That physical accessibility sends a message that ‘we are here for you’. And we will listen to you and lend guidance. Mutual success. It is why we are here.
What motivates you to do your job well?
I always feel like if you are wanting to make an impact on someone’s life – student, graduate, staff member, colleague – you can make a difference here every day.
I have a new Admissions team and we have a high bar we’re reaching for. I can see that happening. I can’t train passion or heart – I can’t give them those things. But if they have the desire to help change someone’s life, they should be successful. We provide the guidance and support to get them there.
Does your historical perspective from years at SJVC help you in your leadership role?
I believe in what we do. I believe in the quality of education we give our students. I also believe in a work/life balance. This (SJVC) is like a second family to me – and sometimes we see more of each other than our families at home.
There is a lot of work and responsibility in my position, but I feel I can do it because I know what those duties are and feel competent to handle them.
Has your education and career trajectory influenced your sisters and brother’s ambitions?
One sister is getting her Master’s degree and another sister is enrolled here at SJVC Bakersfield in the Medical Office Administration (MOA) program. We’re trying to convince my brother to go to college, but at twenty-two he still just wants to work and make money. We show him different options, but don’t want to push him away. We’re a very united family and are together every Sunday. There’s time.
We invite you to learn more about Emma! Find out what SJVC means to her and what inspires her to succeed everyday.
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