After 15 years of teaching a wide variety of speech, communication, and gender classes here, associate professor Paula Usrey plans to retire at the end of fall term.

“I will miss the students that I see grow and share so much (I learn so much from students), and I get so excited and there’s nothing more rewarding than to see students start from one place and taking those steps to work hard and end in a different place. I will also miss the interactions with my colleagues and friends. You think you’re going to see some people, but you usually don’t,” Usrey said.

Usrey expressed appreciation for her fellow coworkers and her time here at UCC. “I have been fortunate to be a part of a teaching community with people I admire incredibly. Some of the faculty here are world class people. And, I think, my gosh, people don’t understand what we’ve got here. It’s been a real honor to call myself a UCC faculty member,” Usrey explained.

Usrey became a teacher because she considers herself to be a life-long learner. She believes in learning and continues to love to learn.

“I discovered that speech communication was an empowering skill and something anyone can develop. I grew up with extreme communication anxiety. I could not speak up for myself, and it was debilitating. I went to community college and discovered that I could think, that I like to learn. And then I joined speaking groups to learn how to overcome my fear, which really helped. That’s when I realized that it really changed the direction of my life, and I felt very passionate about it and I realized how fortunate I was to get help and support starting at a community college that made a difference. I realized that’s really what I want to do. I want to share that with other people, and I want to give that kind of support to others,” Usrey explained.

She will miss working here, but Usrey has big plans for retirement. She is a fully certified retirement coach and plans to help baby boomers prepare for retirement by offering non-financial retirement tools, strategies and information to help ease the transition from full-time work life to whatever retirement’s going to look like. For more information, visit her Facebook page Boomer Best U .

Paula Usrey leaves both students and faculty with some advice. For the students, “Keep learning. Everybody here has so much potential. Keep learning, keep studying, take advantage of everything you’ve got here, all the services, the amazing counselors, advisors, all the support and resources – take advantage of it,” and for new teachers, “One regret I have is not getting involved in the Faculty Association sooner. You get to connect with other people, and it’s a group of passionate people who support each other. Also, faculty are usually pretty open on letting others sit in on their classes. Take advantage when faculty members invite you to sit in their classes. I was just humbled when I saw what great things other people were doing,” Usrey said.

Students will miss Usrey on campus. “Paula’s speech class helped me to come out of my shell, and for that I am ever grateful,” said Usrey’s former speech student, Christian DeWeese.

“Being in a community college is a great place to be,” Usrey said.