Student Support Programs Project Coordinator Erin Fitzgerald has been named OCC’s Manager of the Year. Fitzgerald first came to OCC 16 years ago as a part-time employee in the College’s IT department. After attending law school and working at local nonprofit the Public Law Center, she returned to Coast in 2014, a career switch that has played to her strengths.
“I quickly realized that the adversarial nature of practicing law and the stress of litigation was not for me,” Fitzgerald shares. “Working at OCC has allowed me to be in a fun, alive, colorful college campus atmosphere, working with like-minded people towards a common good and supporting the same populations I worked with as a lawyer. Ultimately, it accomplishes very similar ends through means that are way more fun!”
After a recent move from the Office of Instruction to the Student Services Wing, where she was promoted into a management role, Fitzgerald oversees several projects across several areas of the College, including coordinating the Wellness Calls team response to support OCC students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although she’s been in her new role for just under a year, she has enthusiastically taken on the challenge of finding better ways to help more students succeed.
“The heart of everything we do is supporting our students and helping them accomplish their goals,” Fitzgerald says. “What can we do that we're not already doing? What support is missing? Can we rethink the way we support them? Who else could we collaborate with to provide better services? How can we be better? These are exciting questions to ask!”
Having worked in some many areas across campus, she has had the opportunity to make many friends along the way, and is honored to be recognized by her peers. “My work family truly feels like a family; I literally get to work with my friends every day,” Fitzgerald says.
She has also found herself constantly impressed with the drive and passion of the students that she’s had a chance to work with. “When you work on a college campus, you meet so many different kinds of people, and you learn from their stories,” she shares. “I know working here has made me a more empathetic, kind, and equity-minded person.”