Karin Cole was not one to hurry off to college after graduating high school. As a young adult, she was working, driving her own car and thinking, “life is good.” It was not until she became a parent that she realized her life was passing her by.
“I realized if I was ever going to have a chance to have anything, I needed to go to college,” Cole said. That is when she decided to start taking classes at Virginia Western Community College.
The thought of going back to school some years down the road intimidated her at first. “I was scared to death when I walked into the admissions office,” she said. “I knew I wanted to make a change but I didn’t know how.”
While taking classes, Cole received a work study position in the admissions office, which little did she know at the time, would lead her to where she is today, working at the college full time for her eleventh year.
Looking back on it, she said, “Virginia Western opened a good door for me. Everything happened for me here.”
Cole’s current position is the office manager for the Admission’s Office.
“I oversee the daily operations and I do a lot of troubleshooting with students to try to resolve problems before students have to see the Dean or Registrar,” she said. “If other coworkers need help doing something I try and help them. It is rare that you’ll see me without something going on,” she added.
She enjoys interacting with students most. Her position gives her the opportunity to relate to students and help them.
“I like it when the students know they can talk to me. If they (students) leave and they feel good and excited about their future, then I’ve done my job,” she said. “I have seen more than one person literally scared to death about going to college. It took everything in them to come to college and they need somebody to reassure them,” said Cole. After speaking with admissions and receiving guidance from college counselors,“They leave excited. I remember what that feels like. That keeps me grounded sometimes,” she added.
In May, Cole won the Virginia Community College Association Showcase Award (VCCA). The competition invites each college in the Virginia Community College System to select a faculty and a staff employee who has done an outstanding job. Virginia Western employees nominated Cole and she won the staff showcase award.
“I am very proud of that. It means a lot to me,” she said.
She will receive the award at the VCCA convention at the Hotel Roanoke in October.
Cole lives on Grandin Road with her two sons, ages 16 and 12. She has been in her current home for three years but lived in the Grandin area for almost 20 years.
“I really like it,” she said.
Between working and taking care of the boys, she likes to scrapbook.
“I don’t do it as much as I would like to but I enjoy it,” she said.
She is also a NASCAR and football fan. Her team is the Carolina Panthers.
Her ambition is to raise her children and see them go to college. She plans to continue her career at Virginia Western.
“I’ve been here for so long I can’t imagine going anywhere else,” she said.
She also hopes to learn and grow in her position.