Only two months into the job, West Hills Community College Lemoore President Dr. Kristin Clark is already setting big dreams she hopes to accomplish at the college while still remembering her own first steps into education.
As a first generation college student, Clark struggled with what the majority of college students still face — the balance of school, work and family.
“I didn’t have a traditional path — I did a semester and I was off,” Clark said. “It was hard to try to balance work and pay rent and my car and all of those things. I was in and out.”
乐动体育Clark said she was not able to finish college shortly after high school, nor ws she able to live in a dorm. She had to take a few semesters off to support herself. She completed an associate’s degree and then obtained a bachelor’s degree a bit later along with her master’s and doctorate.
“I was 30 when I finished my bachelor’s,” Clark said. “It took me a long time to get there. It was this in and out kind of thing. Like our students here you find it hard to balance work and study time and you got to pay the bills and you can’t stop working.”
Clark said since she was a first generation college student, her parents did not necessarily push her into going to college. She said she continued her education because she knew she could not work to the top without it.
“I never really wanted to be told that I’m stuck somewhere or I couldn’t because I didn’t have that,” Clark said.
Clark said she is a firm believer that education can grant people freedom to choose what they want to do in life — something which she is trying to instill in her own son, Trevin.
Clark said she never thought she would become president at a community college. Not that she was ever opposed to the idea, but never saw it in her deck of cards.
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“What’s happen to me over time is that I would take on the next role and then I would get to a point where I felt like I wasn’t challenged anymore,” Clark said.
She said when she interviewed for her current position last year she felt confident and remembered telling her husband, Glen, that she felt comfortable and at home. She added that it was something that was meant to be.
Clark said she has had a wonderful experience these past two months as the new WHCL president and Lemoore resident. She started working as president the first week of January.
“The people in the community have just been welcoming and great,” Clark said. “I can tell people genuinely care about each other. It’s pride for the area and the Valley.”
Clark said she was more excited than nervous when she started her first day as president. She said she was surprised that she was able to sleep the night before.
“Anytime you change a job, walking into a new position, new place, maybe there’s some nerves that come with that,” Clark said. “I think I had the fortune of being able to come visit a few times during the fall before I actually started.”
Clark said she attended board meetings during the fall semester and events where she got the chance to interact with people on campus.
As president, her goal is to take the campus to the next level and give more opportunities for students to succeed in school and in their careers. She said their goal at WHCL is to push students to enroll full time to get them on their way. Clark understands that she has a lot to learn but she is determined to grow the campus.
“I think I bring a different perspective coming from outside the area, to kind of just help ask the questions for us,” Clark said. “Not necessarily to change things but to ask the questions that gets us thinking a little differently.”
Clark said she is looking forward to see the new student union being built, which will give students a place to hang out in between classes. She said she wants to create a “sense of place” for students and make a difference in their lives.