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  • karenEmersonLarge

Karen Emerson

  • Program: Instructor, Office Professional (Retired)

    Education/Industry Certifications: Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Master’s degree in Education and Curriculum, Doane College; Certified Legal Assistant, National Association of Legal Assistants

    Has taught at SCC since: 2001

    Years of Work Experience Outside SCC: 20 years as a paralegal

    Describe your teaching philosophy.
    My top priority is student success. If a student is willing to devote the time and energy, we can both be successful. Many of our students need encouragement to meet the challenges of classwork. I try to provide this encouragement, as well as the structure needed for future success. My door is always open for students.

    Why did you decide to teach at a community college?
    Teaching is really my second career, and I really stumbled into it. I started at SCC’s Lincoln Campus in September 2001, right after 9/11, as an adjunct in the Office Professional program. My family had just moved to Beatrice from Newton, KS, where I’d worked as a paralegal in Newton and Wichita. My friend and college roommate, Nancy Krumland (Lincoln BSAD co-chair), called to ask if I might be interested in interviewing for an adjunct position in the Office Professional program. I joined the full-time Office Professional faculty in October 2004 and transferred to the Beatrice Campus in summer 2010. As I tell my students, networking is the best way to find a job!

    What can prospective students expect when they enroll in your program?
    Students in our Office Professional program receive hands-on computer training, as well as much-needed training in soft skills like listening, following directions, working with others, professionalism, and appropriate dress for the workplace. We strive to teach our students the skills employers tell us they need, which include regular attendance, as well as oral and written communication skills. Since our classes are smaller and we usually have students in more than one class, we get to know them personally and provide support and encouragement as they work toward their goal of a degree and the end goal of a good job. Also, due to the small class sizes, students form lasting friendships with each other.

    What experiences outside of SCC do you bring to the classroom/laboratory that enhance student learning?
    Most of the instructors in the Office Professional and Business Administration programs have worked in the “real world.” Before SCC, I worked as a medical transcriptionist, bookkeeper, administrative assistant, and 20 years as a paralegal. These experiences have allowed me to relate to students how the skills they are learning at SCC are applied in the workplace and how important a professional attitude is once you get the job.

    What advice do you have for students pursuing a degree in your program? 
    School needs to be a priority, not something to be squeezed into an already very busy life. Make the time commitment needed for success and you will achieve it. Get to know your fellow students and instructors and you will enjoy coming to school.

    What do you enjoy most about working with students?
    In our Office Professional program we have many young single mothers and nontraditional students who work hard to gain skills that will allow them to improve their opportunities for better jobs. It’s a joy to see these students succeed.

    What is the best part about being an SCC faculty member?
    I’ve made lifelong friends with coworkers. Also, SCC provided me with the opportunity to discover that, even at my advanced age, my brain still worked. In 2007, I received my master’s degree in Education from Doane College. This was made possible through SCC’s tuition reimbursement benefit.

    What has been your proudest moment as an instructor?
    The most rewarding experiences have been the times when I’ve been able to connect students to employers. By developing relationships with employers, I’ve convinced many to take a chance on a student who may have only had fast-food experience before entering our program. Area employers really trust our recommendations and value the education our students receive. Also, as an advisor for Phi Beta Lambda (future business leaders), I’ve been privileged to mentor students to meet challenges they never would have attempted without the opportunities given to them through PBL. Those proud smiles of achievement will always stay with me.

    What do you like to do when you’re not teaching?
    I travel a lot! Most of my free time is spent with my three daughters and my growing group of grandchildren who live in New York City and Chicago.

    What would students be surprised to know about you?
    They might be surprised to know that one of my favorite TV shows is “Walking Dead.”