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Chancellor's Update - November 2019

Though our shared experiences are vital to our daily work, much like our students, Lone Star College employees come from varied backgrounds. Professional and support staff members, those who commit to making the college run smoothly, all bring something unique to the table. As Thanksgiving draws near, it is a quality that we are especially thankful for.  

At each LSC location, a Professional and Support Staff Association President is elected to act as a resource, encourage growth and foster community spirit among our all employees. Below, find out more about each representative's life as well as their goals in serving their peers.

LSC-CyFair

Jeremy Dudley, Professional and Support Staff Association President Lone Star College-CyFair

If you ask him, Jeremy Dudley will tell you that at every point in his life these past few years, there has always been something for him at LSC. With each role he transitioned into, he has found exactly what he needed.

Dudley began his LSC career in 2013 as a proctor at LSC-Cypress Center while also working as a private tutor. He then became a specialist at the center and later a specialist at LSC-CyFair. A burgeoning interest in data and his participation in the LSC Data Institute is what spurred Dudley to grow into a position as the Coordinator for Data and Orientation and most recently as the Manager of Outreach and Recruitment in the Admissions and Records Department at LSC-CyFair.

"When I needed part-time work because I was an entrepreneur working on a tutoring business, LSC was there and allowed me to be successful. When it was time for full-time work, LSC was there, and I was able to succeed," Dudley said.

With a love of math and physics and the goal to obtain a master's degree in data analytics, Dudley's diligence to support his staff and the college's future students is clear in his role as well as in his involvement in the LSC-CyFair EmpowerU professional development program. And now as the Professional and Support Staff Association President at his location, Dudley is motivated by choosing to remain positive regardless of any outside circumstance.

One of Dudley's goals for his term is to recognize the LSC-CyFair employees whose work is essential yet not often visible. For example, he said the association plans to assemble goodie bags to give to the college's evening and weekend staff because these members are often unable to attend the group's regular events.

"There are a lot of unsung heroes at our college in every department, and I want to acknowledge them. I want there to be an increase in the culture of recognition. I hope I can do whatever I can to increase how much we appreciate each other...I know it's small, but this work matters," Dudley said.

In his free time, he co-leads a bible study with his church, spends time with his family and enjoys traveling, Netflix and sports.

LSC-Kingwood

Allison Huffy, Professional and Support Staff Association President Lone Star College-Kingwood

Allison Huffy never could have known that volunteering in the library at her daughter's school would lead to a lasting career at the LSC-Kingwood Library, but she has been working as a Specialist III there since she came on board in 2009. She now handles circulation desk duties and helps students with printing.

Huffy has a bachelor's degree in education from Texas A&M University-Kingsville (formerly known as Texas A&I University), which she received in 1984. After teaching for a year and then working in the oil and gas industry for five years, Huffy stayed home to raise her children.

She then started substitute teaching and volunteering at the high school library. When she went to apply for a position at the local public library, one of the high school librarians who also worked at LSC-Kingwood in the evenings said there might be an open position for Huffy there.

"I immediately came over (to LSC-Kingwood), filled out an application and brought it back. They interviewed me that day, and I got the job that day. Everything just fell into place. It was like it was meant for me to be here, and I have enjoyed working here ever since," Huffy said.

Huffy is also now the Professional and Support Staff Association President at the location, where she is working to facilitate community service projects and informative presentations for her colleagues.

When Hurricane Harvey hit the area, the library was one of the buildings on the campus that unfortunately took on four feet of contaminated floodwater. Books were ruined, and employees were displaced. And while that was a struggle, the renovated library is bright and clean, offering more resources for students such as tutoring, an enhanced digital collection and new computer labs.

"Even though Harvey was a horrendous experience, it has been a blessing because it allowed us to remodel the library to where it is more student-friendly. It has gotten to be a kind of hub on campus. We have had moments where every seat is taken, and we see a diverse group of people: students and community members," Huffy said.

When she's not at work, Huffy enjoys playing with her dogs, Mazee and Scout, reading and playing hidden object games.

LSC-Montgomery

Tabitha Yargo, Professional and Support Staff Association President Lone Star College-Montgomery

It was December 2005, and Tabitha Yargo thought she was headed to LSC-Tomball to interview for an adjunct faculty position. But the decision had already been made. When she showed up, she found out that she had the job-and the rest is history.

Yargo's role has evolved since then, and she is now the Coordinator of Sports and Recreation and Community Service as well as the Director of Student Life at LSC-Montgomery and the Professional and Support Staff Association President there.

While she spends her time overseeing club sports and campus-wide events big and small as well as volunteer fairs and service projects, Yargo has a medical background. She obtained her bachelor's degree in kinesiology from Stephen F. Austin State University in 2002. Then, she completed a post-baccalaureate initial teaching certification and afterward a master's degree in education in 2005, later obtaining another master's degree in both kinesiology and sports medicine in 2006.

Yargo said the best part of her day is seeing students laugh and engage with each other through the events and opportunities she gets to direct.

"I really love the student interaction. I love making a difference. Students come to me quite often and say that the events helped them meet people and get engaged initially. So, to see the impact you make on students is a really cool thing...It's all for a purpose," Yargo said.

Yargo does this in a similar vein with LSC employees through the Professional and Support Staff Association, which she has been involved in since 2007. In each association event-whether it is a special trip, appreciation luncheon for part-time employees or a community service project-Yargo ensures that everything is tied back to one of LSC's six cultural beliefs.

"On a normal day on campus, everyone is so busy and tied up in their lives that they don't get a chance to meet a lot of other people. In these events, we're away from campus and it's fun, there's networking, but there is an educational component to it, too," Yargo said.

Around campus, Yargo can often be found with her service dog Oliver by her side. Outside of work, Yargo enjoys attending music festivals and the Texas Renaissance Festival, where she is an ambassador.

LSC-North Harris

Michelle Simon, Professional and Support Staff Association President Lone Star College-North Harris

Michelle Simon likes to share her journey with students who need encouragement. As the Languages and Communication Division Operations Manager and Professional and Support Staff Association President at LSC- North Harris, Simon's story is always ready to be told.

Simon is a New Orleans, Louisiana, native who moved to the Houston area in 1997. Shortly after, she enrolled at LSC as a student in a career program and quickly became a part-time administrative assistant at LSC-North Harris.

She continued taking classes at LSC, eventually obtaining her associate degree in professional office technology. That's when she got her first real full-time job working as a Business Services Specialist at what is now LSC-Houston North Greenspoint. She went on to obtain her bachelor's degree in English from the University of Houston, but Simon eventually settled back at LSC-North Harris. She did all of this while also being a single mom.

"When I have the opportunity to talk to students, I try to share that we all mess up. When I went back to school, I didn't know what I was doing and had to ask questions. I share with them that I was a single mom, paying for all my classes out-of-pocket, doing one class at a time. Students think it must have been easy for us, but it's not always the case," Simon said.

She said she values the support she received, which is why she remains committed to LSC and wanted to get involved in the Professional and Support Staff Association. She now wants to make a difference, acting as a voice for staff and working to double event participation by hosting an administrator speaker series, engaging the new LSC-East Aldine Center employees and planning fun outings.

"Everyone has always been so supportive. I still feel like what we do here really does matter, because I was a student here. I know the impact it makes. If we all come together, then we're stronger and can help our students," Simon said, whose son Jaylen Manuel also attended LSC for his associate degree.

In addition to spending time with her husband Sean and stepchildren Chase, Paige and Kamryn, Simon has also recently taken up cake decorating as a hobby.

LSC-Tomball

Lynda Bancroft, Professional and Support Staff Association President Lone Star College-Tomball

Lynda Bancroft is like a boomerang-her career path has consistently led her back to LSC. She is now the Health and Sciences Division Operations Manager at LSC-Tomball and the Professional and Support Staff Association President there, but she has had quite the journey along the way.

She grew up working for her family's businesses before getting married in the middle of her senior year of high school. She later got her GED and entered a program to become a secretary which took her to several different jobs in the Houston area.

In 1998, Bancroft would often drive by LSC-Tomball. Desiring work in education, she secured a position there where she was also able to enroll in classes, obtain 60 credit hours from LSC and get involved in Phi Theta Kappa.

Bancroft transferred to Texas A&M University on a full-ride scholarship and graduated with a bachelor's degree in history. Not much later, she returned to LSC, this time working in the System Office where she figured out she wanted to become a Division Operations Manager. When the position opened at LSC-Tomball in 2010, Bancroft jumped at the opportunity and hasn't looked back since.

"I have always bought into (the idea that) we support lifelong learning. Each position is important. We may not be in the classroom, but we're making a difference in the student experience," Bancroft said.

She makes this difference through communicating with her peers on College-wide issues while collaborating with other leaders to organize service projects and fundraisers. Bancroft is also involved in the community, acting as a champion for LSC wherever she goes in addition to spending time with her family and friends.

As motivation, she keeps student success stories at the forefront. She remembers one specific student who was the first in his family to finish high school, much less go to college. Bancroft encouraged him to attend law school. When this student graduated with his degree years later, he thanked Bancroft for being the first person to convince him he was capable.

"You never know what impact you're going to have. We're here to change lives, and we don't know what simple little thing we do may make a difference, and what those students do that also goes on to make a difference," Bancroft said.

LSC-University Park

Cassie Marquez, Professional and Support Staff Association President Lone Star College-University Park

Cassie Marquez wears quite a few hats at LSC. She is the Math and Sciences Division Operations Specialist at LSC-University Park and the Professional and Support Staff Association President there as well as a current LSC student.

Originally from San Diego, California, Marquez enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado for her service. She began in signal intelligence and was randomly selected to become military police. When she broke her hand, she was then transferred to managing the base's arms room where almost $5 million worth of weapons systems were stored.

After completing her military duties, Marquez and her husband, Jonathan, moved to the Houston area where she began working at LSC in August 2015-first in a temporary grant-funded position, but shortly thereafter she stepped into her current full-time role.

As an employee, Marquez has participated in both the LSC Data Institute and the Leadership Education Advancement Program, also known as LEAP, where she learned not only how to use data to ask better questions but also that she is capable of taking on more responsibility. That's why she is currently pursuing her associate degree in logistics management at LSC.

"I love learning new things. I finally found something that I'm truly interested in, and I want to do it for the rest of my life. I want to move up," Marquez said.

She added that the support she has received as a student, employee and veteran at LSC has made the transition to civilian life much easier.

"If it weren't for Lone Star and the way that things are structured, the way that people are here, I wouldn't have been as successful. People care, and I like that it feels like a family," Marquez said.

One aspect of that family is Marquez' involvement with the Professional and Support Staff Association, where the group conducts social events to get staff out of their offices to network with others who they may not see every day. Her goal for the rest of her time leading the organization is to begin a mentoring program for staff members as a way to help them grow and learn about other positions within LSC.

LSC-System Office, University Park

Anabell Hernandez, Professional and Support Staff Association President Lone Star College-System Office, University Park

In November, Anabell Hernandez will celebrate nearly three decades with LSC. Though she now works as a Coordinator for Student Success in the Office of Student Success and Completion at LSC-System Office, University Park and is the Professional and Support Staff Association President there, she began her career with LSC as a student worker.

An Aldine-area high school graduate, Hernandez began taking classes at LSC-Kingwood where she also worked at the Admissions Office front desk. When she transferred to LSC-North Harris, she continued with similar student work. Then, in 1990, Chancellor Stephen Head, Ph.D., was the one to hire Hernandez full-time as an admissions specialist there.

After obtaining her associate degree from LSC in 1994, Hernandez helped to open what is now LSC-Houston North Greenspoint as an Admissions/Business Office Assistant. In between starting a family with her husband Lupe, Hernandez finished her bachelor's degree in 2000 at Our Lady of the Lake University while going on to serve in different areas of the college-yet all were focused on student success and services.

"I love the fact that I do make a difference, and I love the connection with the students and faculty, too. They're amazing people; they're like my second family," Hernandez said.

In the Professional and Support Staff Association, she views her role as an opportunity to take the programs and initiatives to the next level by bringing in speakers to address topics not only within the college, but also those of community interest such as the realities of human trafficking.

Hernandez credits her activity with the association to The Academy, a college-wide leadership development program. She said she learned new things about herself through the program-things that made her more conscious of what she offers to others and encouraged her to take on larger roles.

"I feel like Lone Star has given me so much, so it's time for me to give back. It's given me an opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and do amazing things, bigger things," Hernandez said.

At home, Hernandez said her proudest moments lie in her children: Brianna, who is currently studying at LSC-University Park, Kamylle, a student at Texas Tech University and Gavin, a high school freshman.

LSC-System Office, The Woodlands

Nick Brown, Professional and Support Staff Association President Lone Star College-System Office, The Woodlands

When Nick Brown began taking classes as a student at LSC-Tomball, he had a dream to one day work in the System Office-a dream that stemmed from his experiences with the college while he was in high school. That aspiration came true about two and a half years ago when Brown was hired as a Compliance and Incident Management Analyst in the Office of Governance, Audit, and Compliance (OGAC).

After obtaining his prerequisites at LSC-Tomball with help from an LSC Board of Trustees scholarship, Brown transferred to the University of Houston Honors College and received his bachelor's degree in political science in 2013 and his Juris Doctor degree in 2016 from the University of Houston Law Center. He passed the Texas Bar Examination in 2017.

In his day-to-day work here at LSC, he enjoys collaborating with his team on different compliance projects where he is able to apply his legal training and experiences. He said that through his work, he can make a difference every day.

"The best part of my day is accomplishing tasks and projects with the OGAC team after working hard to reach that point...We have the opportunity to create a positive work and school environment," Brown said.

Desiring another learning and leadership opportunity, Brown became the Professional and Support Staff Association President at LSC- System Office, The Woodlands in 2018. Through the work of the team, Brown and his colleagues have more than doubled event attendance in addition to increasing donations at most initiatives. This year, the association plans to highlight mental health awareness and community animal welfare.

"I think LSC is a great organization with an inspiring mission, and we have the privilege and incredible opportunity here to build upon our supportive workplace culture and make a positive impact for others," Brown said. "I think it is very intriguing to see many people from diverse backgrounds coming together each day to support our students and community."

Outside of work, Brown spends his time going to the gym, reading, cooking, serving in the community with friends from church or trying out a new restaurant.

by Jane Stueckemann

LSC Board of Trustees: Alton Smith, Ed.D., Chair, District 3; Myriam Saldívar, Vice Chair, District 6; Art Murillo, Secretary, District 4; Linda S. Good, J.D., Assistant Secretary, District 7; Ken E. Lloyd, District 9; Ernestine M. Pierce, District 2; Mike Stoma, District 1; Mike Sullivan, District 8; and David Vogt, District 5

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