An inside look at Sterling’s Work Program through the experience of Rue Graham.
This Term: Clerk of the Works for Admissions
Last Term: Café Worker
Rue chose Sterling after meeting with Jay Merrill at her high school near Denver, Colorado. She only applied to one college, and chose Sterling because of the “mystery and new challenge of the rural environment.”In Colorado, Rue worked as a grocery bagger and then cashier in a grocery store. Based on her performance as a cashier, she became part of a team that opened new stores and trained others about how to deal with difficult customers.
During her first term at Sterling, working in the store, she felt disconnected. This term she feels as if she’s contributing to the community in her role as Clerk of the Works for Admissions. She’s also substituted for friends in jobs ranging from breakfast cook to sugaring.
She appreciates the gentleness of supervisors—everyone is patient and accepting. Her responsibilities now include assisting Admissions Counselors, leading tours, and coordinating students involved in Open House preparation.
Broadly, Rue feels that her work is helping her be open to conversations with faculty and grow into additional responsibilities. She’s learning communication skills in her work and feels empowered to speak up in her classes and in community meeting. She’s gaining confidence in her ability to motivate others and to take a leadership role in her education. Rue describes learning how to focus on one task at a time, doing each project with the end in mind, and putting her heart into it.
Rue’s concentration is shifting from Outdoor Education & Leadership to Conservation Ecology, and she feels better able to articulate what she needs and tailor Sterling’s offerings to meet those needs than when she first arrived.
In the future, she looks forward to having a job in which she could grow in a manner similar to the way she’s growing now. She anticipates a career with an analytical component (in the field or a classroom—reading situations and adapting to them) while working with people.
The Foundations of Outdoor Education and Leadership course has improved her ability to read situations and to reach/involve all participants on tours—being inclusive, and thinking in processes rather than piecemeal. Many of the themes from Education and Learning Theory have applied to Admissions work, especially in tour guiding.
Rue anticipates “staying here for a while” and absorbing the “lost culture and way of life it represents.” She may take some terms away, but she looks forward to graduating from Sterling and supporting the institution. She appreciates being able to fight for what’s important at Sterling.