Better finances, brighter futures: Jobs generate new experiences, help transform student lives
Work study positions on campus and UCC job connections offer students opportunities to get paid, often for work related to their future careers, for a job that they can do on campus around their course schedule. For several students, the experience has been pivotal.
Khloe Chambers, a former UCC student, was pleasantly surprised after deciding to take on a federal work study position in 2014. As a TOP Student Support for TRIO Student Support Services, Chambers’ newest career change was a drastic contrast to her past experiences: mostly “dead end jobs” where she said she was treated poorly. However, at UCC, Chambers says, “I remember thinking, ‘Wow! These people are nice!’”
Reflecting on her past, Chambers explains how her work study totally changed her direction in life. “It was always hectic [at my other jobs],” she says, “but the atmosphere here was so different. At college, people have that ‘worldly experience’. They’ve been educated; they know how to interact with others, how to treat people properly.”
She’s now employed full-time as an Office Assistant for TRIO Student Support Services in the Educational Skills Building — a job with very similar responsibilities as her previous work study. As a TOP Student Support, Chambers was tasked with the following: keeping contact with students in the program, managing student files, and helping out around the office when needed.
Chambers was trained in confidentiality according to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act standards, and gained valuable on-the-job experience that would continue to aid her later on in life — abilities Chambers might have otherwise struggled with if she hadn’t applied for the study. “When I first started college here, I needed a lot of organizational skills. A tutor was very necessary.”
The opportunity to have hands-on experience in real life work situations was immensely valuable for Chambers. “Here, I sat down, worked, and I felt prepared,” she says. “I was learning how to do that — how to organize myself. It helped me feel confident in a work setting: an actual office, an actual campus… the confidence that brought helped me to break bad habits and change my lifestyle.”
Chambers is an emblem of TRIO Student Support Services: she’s the first person most see when entering the building. However, she also says, “I can’t picture myself applying for a job [like this] without that experience. Because of that study, I wasn’t afraid.”
With a grin, she says, “Working here, I think that’s the average experience: when somebody else believes in you, it’s easier to believe in yourself.”
Chambers’ mantra can be seen fully realized just a few steps and a doorway away: this leads to TRIO’s studying hall, where students — enrolled in the program or not — can use the space to work, study, relax, or have meetings with TOP’s Peer Tutors.
Steve Moss, a 41-year-old student juggling both dual-enrollment and two UCC student employment positions, sits at a table in front of a large Peer Tutor scheduling board. He’s an unmistakable, seemingly-ever-present fixture of the room; Moss occupies the same table every visit and always wears headphones.
When spoken to, though, Moss instead lets the headphones rest around his neck and levels his conversation partners with a comfortable, yet attentive, gaze — letting them know he’s fully listening.
TRIO’s studying hall is somewhat large and frequently-habituated: at any time of day, students can be seen sprawled out with laptops on its many couches, typing away; writing out equations on notebooks and papers layered like collages on its several desks; or sitting with a peer tutor like Moss himself.
He clarifies that he didn’t first intend to become a tutor for TOP. However, during his second term at UCC, he was suddenly approached by Jennifer Driskill — TRIO Student Support Services’ Advising Specialist and the one in charge of its tutoring pool — and Moss was asked to help out the program by tutoring math.
“I’m not the best [in the subject,] but I know how to lead people toward getting answers on their own,” Moss says. “It’s not too stressful. The job has a schedule, but it’s flexible. You get paid $12.50 an hour to help people with their homework.” He then explains he doesn’t agree that tutoring a subject requires one to be an expert in it. “If I forget a concept, or don’t know an answer, we’ll go to Google and figure it out together.”
“Or we can ask someone else,” Moss says, eyes then flitting around the room. It’s a subtle reminder that the other occupants of TRIO’s study hall are not entirely strangers but fellow students — most a part of the TRIO programs themselves. The culture of these programs includes a familiarity with needing to ask for help: TRIO’s stated purpose is to help students overcome any barriers to their education.
Driskill says, “Tutors turn into family. Those who stay as a tutor longer have been really beneficial to the program.”
Driskill also mentions the letters of recommendations she’s written for students who were former peer tutors. “I’m not a great writer by any means,” she says, “but when writing those letters, the words just flowed out. My admiration for their devotion, the mutual respect tutors and pupils had for each other… I’ve watched them all grow into amazing human beings. I love it.”
Aside from tutoring, Moss has another job as a botany technician. This job relates to his majors, which focus on nature and its environments: at UCC, he’s a Fish and Wildlife Conservation student, but at University of Oregon — where his dual-enrollment takes place — Moss specializes in Ecological Restoration.
Therefore, when UCC advertised an off-campus position as a Botany Technician for the Diamond Lake Ranger District’s Forest Service, the job seemed, to him, a natural decision to make. “I saw there were positions at Toketee, so I took one,” Moss says. “The hours there are flexible, too.”
“As for what we did? Mostly, it was treating invasive weeds and collecting native wildflower seeds,” Moss says. When he starts to elaborate on what the seeds are for, there’s a noticeable change in his demeanor. Moss’ eyes light up. “Those seeds are sent to a nursery, which then grow more seeds that are eventually given back to us. After that, we plant them to aid restoration efforts in burn areas nearby.”
Moss continues: “There’s other stuff, too. We had Phoenix High School’s Youth Corps working with us once, and we were going on a hiking trip. It was some effort, to carry all the packs and supplies — but worth it at the end when we arrived at the lake. All of us camped out there for four days, doing our weed-killing, but on our off-time we were allowed to swim, fish, and just hang out.”
He softens, a little, to say, “It’s good to get young people involved.”
Through UCC’s student employment opportunities, Moss was able to do actual work toward healing the environment he studies in class. “Everything we do in the forest,” Moss says, “is for a future generation.”
To get employed or apply for a work study at UCC, refer to their associated sections on UCC’s website. Student employees are paid directly by the college and can begin work as soon as an opening is available, but Federal Work Studies can only provide hours according to current grant funds allowed to UCC; students must also be enrolled at least half-time, or have six credits worth of classes, in order to qualify for a work study.
For more information: a list of step-by-step instructions concerning student employment can be found on SchoolJobs.com’s Online Employment Application Guide. If students have questions or need help completing forms to register for Federal Work Study, they may contact Ann Abel — either at her office in the Financial Offices of the LaVerne Murphy Student Center, or by calling her number at (541)-440-4621.
Contact me at:
For more articles by Robin Bailey, please click here.