by Ryan Skiera
Associate Professor, Business Administration
This is an experience I had with a student when I first arrived at Lansing Community College. This was an older student, 40-ish, who was going to college for the first time. When I first met her, she was very skinny (and to me she looked sickly), was very quiet and timid, and as I found out as the semester went on, was an excellent student. As I do in all my classes, I broke this class up into groups at the beginning of the semester and throughout the semester got to know the students, including the 40-ish-year-old new student.
This same student slowly started to warm up to me and sometimes would even stay after class to talk. As the semester went on, she started to tell me about what had happened in her home life. She was in the process of getting a divorce from a person who, more and more, became a very controlling and verbally abusive individual. One day, I could tell that something was off and she seemed distant, so after class she came up to chat. That day, her divorce was final and she was talking about all the emotions that she was experiencing including relief, closure, and fear of the unknown, when she broke down and cried.
Not knowing what to do or say, I just sat there with her and let her cry. Since I did not feel comfortable or qualified to give advice about her past, we started to talk about the future. Over time, I reassured her that there were many opportunities and going to college was the right decision for it will assist her in reaching her goals. After our conversation, she thanked me and told me that I am one of the few that has shown a concern for her, in and out of class, and that the future is not as daunting as it once seemed. Along with this. she said she was determined to better herself in an effort to create a comfortable life for herself and her children.
I still wonder what happened with this student. This experience showed me the impact that LCC and its representatives can have on the Lansing community. I have learned that the community college student is much more diverse than the university’s and as such you are able to impact students and the community at a more intimate level.