After Three Decades Johnson Retires from Adams State College

(08-09-2005)

Sarah Johnson

Sarah Johnson retired from her position as an administrative assistant in the Counseling and Career Office. She left without fanfare. On her last day she came in, did her work, and left. There was no farewell party, and no good-bye speeches. Her absence is noticed after 33 years of her quiet presence, walking through the hall, answering the phone or helping calm upset or nervous students. Richardson Hall just isn't quite the same.

For three decades she worked in Richardson Hall, first in the Placement Office, later combined with Counseling and Career Center. "I started working with George Schilthuis. There were changes over the years. We were moved to different offices and eventually combined with the Counseling and Career Center."

The Counseling and Career Office may have students come in unannounced, and upset. Interacting with them takes empathy. "I've known many students. I worked directly with them and I really liked the interaction. Sometimes they came in very upset. I was instructed in what to say and do, until a counselor could help. I liked the students coming in all the time."

She enjoyed the interaction with her last immediate supervisor, Shelle McLean, Director of Counseling and Career Center. "I really like Shelle, she is a great person. Very understanding and patient with the students and so pleasant with everyone she meets," said Johnson.

McLean admires Johnson's dedication. She said, "Sarah was more than an administrative assistant. She played a very important role in the way she represented Adams State College. She was a number one contact with students when she prepared their credential files. While she was in the Counseling and Career Center she was exposed to graduate student staff and involved in their training and made an impact in their lives."

Back in 1972 the fashion was hip huggers and long hair. "I haven't noticed that students act any different than thirty years ago. I believe they are basically the same. Students from this generation seem a little more troubled. I don't believe the problems with drugs and alcohol were as severe when I first began at Adams State College. But then again, maybe it was just that I wasn't in a position to notice," added Johnson.

All the while she was in Richardson Hall, but her office changed names and duties.

She said, "When I started in the Placement Office my duties included taking care of placement and credential files. I also kept the appointment announcements on the bulletin board and input correspondence into the computer. We kept credential files on all students who graduated from Adams State College. It included their resume, letter of recommendation, transcripts, etc. Whenever a student applied to an agency, company, business, school district, etc they would give me a call and I would send out their material. I use to send out 50 a day. It was a service for anyone whether they were a recent or past graduate of our college. I also helped plan and manage the Career and Education fairs."

When Johnson first started, her job was overwhelming. But she managed to learn the new skills and impress her superiors.

McLean added, "Sarah was amazing. She did more than just make appointments and answer phone. She created packets for students to find jobs. She acted as a liaison between the community and the campus. She organized the Career and Education Fairs and was the contact person for the recruiters throughout the state. I know firsthand what a difference it made to have Sarah around with her positive manner. I was an intern in the office when I was working on my master's. She was my first contact with the Counseling and Career Center. She was a significant person in the development of what it is today and what it has become. She was so dedicated and loyal. I am really going to miss her."

Adams State College co-hosts the Annual Education Fair with Mesa Sate and Western State. Every third year the fair is on the ASC campus. Johnson said, "The Education Fair is very popular and has even been attended by out-of-state districts. It is specific to education majors. Adams State also hosts a yearly Career Fair. Companies, businesses, agencies and the military generally have tables set up to talk with college seniors."

Johnson is pleased she could be of assistance to so many students. She believes their education is very important, "I don't think when I first started at the college it was as important to have a degree in higher education. Now I believe you almost have to have one to get any salaried position at the college. I've also noticed many more administrative support staff have a degree now than when I first started. I believe it helps give them an edge, especially if there is any chance of a promotion."

She hopes the community and the politicians understand a college's role. "When I first started working higher education had more support from the government. Now we have had so many changes in funding from the legislature and it has made the atmosphere more stressful for everyone. I believe when funding for higher education is knocked out of the budget it makes staff and faculty feel less valued overall, that I don't like."

Johnson did like her job at the college and now is happy to have unrestricted time, "I really miss the interaction with people and students. I appreciate having no set schedule. Now I can accompany my husband, Jack, on his business around the San Luis Valley or drive over to Pueblo without having to get a day off, it is nice to have the freedom." There are no specific plans for the near future, "I may take up golf again. And I'm devoting more time to family and friends."