Finding Purpose

Dr. Carlotta S. Walker
Assistant Professor of Management and Leadership

As a former non-traditional student, who happened to be the age of the traditional undergraduate student, I have a profound understanding of what it means to be a non-traditional student like many of those who walk the campus of LCC.  Although I attended Central Michigan University on a full-tuition scholarship at the age of 19, my life was very different than that of my peers.  When I entered CMU in 2003 as a freshman, I was not only the mother of a three-year old little girl, but I was also engaged to be married.

As it would happen, we found out that we were pregnant with our second daughter during my freshman year.  To my abject horror, she was due to be born during the week of midterms in the next academic year! Luckily, I only took classes that were required for my major.  I say “luckily” because without those wonderfully caring and compassionate professors, I would not be typing this open essay to you.  My professors did not look at me as a lost cause or charity case.  Their expectations were not lowered for me. They treated me as they did all of the other students in the class while also being supportive and nurturing.  This is who I strive to be for my students.

My experience during that hectic semester in fall of 2004 had a significant impact on the way in which I approach my role as a professor at LCC.  I see myself in many of my non-traditional students.  Whether it be the single mom or the lifelong learner that decides to finish up the degree that they started 30 years ago.

One student that helped me understand the importance of teaching and learning was Joann.  Joann had already earned a baccalaureate degree but was considering a career change.  Joan started taking courses at LCC in hopes that she would find her “passion”.  It was during her time in one of my human resources classes that she found that passion. She knew that human resource management was the perfect discipline for her.

Throughout the course, she would stay after class and discuss career options and current events involving HRM.  Towards the end of the course, Joann shared with me that she would take the “leap of faith” and apply to graduate schools.  I was so proud to write a letter of recommendation for her.  She is now finishing up the first year of her graduate program and is set to start a summer internship with a Fortune-500 company.  I still try to serve as a mentor to Joann and have invited her to speak to other students who are still searching for their “passion”.

My goal is to help students work to their potential while also being supportive, nurturing, and FIRM.  My expectations for each student are that they leave my class with not only a deeper understanding of the subject matter but a sense of accomplishment.  I hope that my personal story will inspire them to achieve their goals whether it is to find the career that they are passionate about, start a business, obtain an upwardly mobile job, or finish something started a quarter-century ago.