Karen McCoy is employee of the quarter

GROSSMONT COLLEGE (Press Release) – The latest winner of Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District’s quarterly employee award has her own tale of success about how community college changed her life.

Karen McCoy, who’s in charge of the media desk at Grossmont College’s Learning Resource Center, was a high- school dropout who worked for years in low-skill jobs until she went to Cuyamaca College to get an associate degree. A work-study job at Cuyamaca led first to a part-time job and then to her position as a full-time employee at the Learning Resource Center.

McCoy, an intermediate multimedia technician at the college library since 2004, was recently honored with the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Chancellor/Classified Senate Award, a commendation presented quarterly to outstanding non-instructional staff. McCoy was presented with an engraved trophy at the Jan. 18 governing board meeting, along with a $250 gift certificate from Barnes & Noble and a lunch with Chancellor Cindy L. Miles and Governing Board President Bill Garrett.

Miles said McCoy’s sunny disposition and excellent customer service exemplifies the welcoming atmosphere and students-first attitude pervasive at Grossmont College.

“The students and the district as a whole benefit hugely from classified staff with Karen’s dedication and trademark service with a smile,” she said.

McCoy, who quit school at 16, said she decided to attend Cuyamaca College at age 38 after she was laid off from her job as a custodian at El Cajon’s Parkway Plaza shopping center in 1996.  “I was out of work, had two kids to support and had to turn to welfare for assistance,” McCoy said.  “I was the only one who could change my circumstances so I showed up at Cuyamaca College very scared and lost. I was an adult who hadn’t been to school in 22 years. It was time to make a change in my life.”

McCoy recalled the “girl’s education” she received in high school, where she was told not to worry if she didn’t understand math because she just needed to know how to type and to find a man to care for her.

Her lack of basic science in high school made the chemistry and biology courses at Cuyamaca especially hard, and McCoy had to repeat the classes. McCoy calls the day in 1998 when she received her associate of science degree – the day after her 40th birthday – the best present she ever received in her life. The Texas native, who moved to California as a youngster, said the work-study job at Cuyamaca’s counseling center that was part of her financial aid package was a life-changing opportunity.

At her current post at Grossmont’s library, McCoy is responsible for ordering, cataloging and booking films, as well as maintaining electronic reserves, which involves scanning faculty and student-requested articles or chapters from books and placing them in the library database.

A coworker’s retirement, which left her as the sole full-time person at the media desk, also added the tasks of interlibrary loan and media acquisitions to her workload. She also staffs and trains student workers in computer software programs used for checking items out, making appointments for study rooms and serving the public.

“Sometimes I help instructors find and create links they can add into BlackBoard (presentations) that they use for their classes,” she said. “The most links I have ever helped an instructor with was about 100 – it was a lot of work, but it was also a lot of fun finding all the articles, creating links and showing the instructor how to do it.”

Despite staff reductions and rising student enrollment, McCoy manages to remain cheerful and routinely assists students and faculty in other library functions.

“I have also worked the media desk and was consistently amazed that Karen always greets everyone with a cheery smile, and remembers their names,” said retired senior multimedia technician Marty Armstrong, who nominated McCoy for the recognition. “In my humble opinion, Karen is the best employee the library has, with her strong work ethic, and willingness to do whatever it takes to serve the library constituents…She is the ‘go-to’ person on the library second floor, and often, people seek her out as they know she will make sure their needs are met.”

Debi Miller, the district’s Classified Senate president, said the quarterly award honors classified employees whose job excellence and work ethic inspires others. Awardees are chosen based on five key values developed by the district: student access; learning and student success; value and support of employees; economic and community development; and fiscal and physical resources.

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Preceding provided by Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

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