LA JUNTA – For the past 32 years Jan Schiro has been a familiar face at Otero Junior College. Her smile and helpful attitude have helped several thousand students navigate the often-intimidating process of college admissions and registration. Schiro, who has been working in the Student Services Center as the college’s registrar, will retire on October 29, 2010. A reception in her honor will be held in the Student Services Center on Wednesday, October 27 from 2-4 p.m. Students, faculty, staff and the public are invited to drop in to wish her well.
Schiro, a graduate of Cheraw High School and a 1977 graduate of Otero Junior College, began her career at the college in 1975 as a workstudy student, working in the office of President William McDivitt. Shortly after graduation, she began working part-time in both the college’s bookstore and business office. She also worked for one year as an administrative assistant in Instructional Services before moving into the admissions office in 1979. Schiro was promoted to Administrative Assistant III in 1996 where she took on the duties of the college’s registrar in the Student Services Center.
As she reflected back over her career at OJC, Schiro talked about all the changes she has seen during those years.
“The biggest changes have been in technology; however, they happened so gradually that it never seemed like it was overwhelming; rather it was just a slow and steady pace of change that we were able to adapt to,” she explained.
Schiro said she has operated three student record systems, gone from a computer system at a single terminal to personal computers at every desk and followed that up with a countless number of computer upgrades. She has weathered several office moves and renovations, and learned to work through the noise, clutter and inconvenience. In addition to changing student record management systems three times, Schiro said the other major change was transferring from a college quarter-system to a semester system in 1987-1988.
In the midst of all that change, Schiro said that she has only worked for four presidents and four vice presidents at the college.
“Some of my colleagues at other colleges have lost count of their presidents and vice presidents, and they have not had as long of careers as I have had, so I feel very thankful to have worked under such stable leadership,” she said.
One aspect of her job that is very dear to her heart has been the supervision of hundreds of workstudy students in the Student Services office, many of whom she has remained good friends with and provided training that those students were able to utilize in their future careers.
While sometimes she longs for the days when she could actually see the bottom of her desk at the end of a day, Schiro said there are some things she does not miss about her job from the early days.
“Computers have made my job so much easier in many respects; for instance, I no longer have to type every transcript by hand; I still review them, but the computer system automatically posts the grades and courses. You can only image the hours I spent typing transcripts in the past,” she said.
As enrollment has grown at OJC during Schiro’s career, from a low of 500 in the early 1980s to about 1,700 now, the volume of work has not only increased; it has changed in nature as well.
“The college now has a larger number of international students than when I started to work here, and I am very involved with their admission process. The admission process for international students requires more paperwork than other students’ admission process. The large number of athletes and the variety of certificate programs that have been added have also changed my job over the years,” she said.
As Schiro begins to wind down her career this week at OJC, she said she is proud to have been a part of an organization that has done so much for so many people, not only students from the local area, but students from across the nation and the world.
“There have been a lot of people who have helped us get to where we are today,” she said. “Some of the people I worked with that helped to make that happen, and for whom I have very fond memories, are the late E.J. Conley, history professor; the late Terry Hetrick, vice president of Instruction; former OJC President Joe Treece and former Vice President of Student Services Brad Franz. Each of these men worked hard for the college and I enjoyed working for them.”
Otero Junior College has become a family tradition with Schiro’s family. Her daughter Megan graduated from OJC and went on to earn a degree in sociology. Her son Cameron is currently finishing his second year at OJC.
Schiro said her plans for the future include spending more time with her children and taking care of her parents. She also loves to travel and hopes to have that opportunity as well.
“I have loved working for the college. President Rizzuto is great and very supportive of Student Services. Jeff Paolucci and I have worked together for 15 years, beginning when he was Director of Financial Aid, then when he was named Vice President for Student Services, he became my supervisor. He has always been very supportive and we have had a great working relationship. There are many good people here and I have truly enjoyed the students that I have met over the years. I know I am going to miss it all very much and this will be a big adjustment for both me and my family,” she said.
Jeff Paolucci, vice president of Student Services has known Schiro since he was a student at OJC and has worked with her in the Student Services Center for the past 15 years.
“Jan’s dedication to the college and her position is second to none. She always goes the extra mile to make sure things are taken care of and done correctly. I have enjoyed working with Jan over the years and wish her the best in her retirement,” said Paolucci.
A reception in honor of Jan Schiro will be held in the Student Services Center on Wednesday, October 27 from 2-4 p.m. Students, faculty, staff and the public are invited to drop in to wish her well.