New president discusses college life

Photo contributed

Photo contributed

James Walls
Campus News Editor

Q&A: Jennifer Methvin

Dr. Jennifer Methvin started her term as Crowder College president on June 1, 2014, taking over for Interim President Dr. Kent Farnsworth. Now, almost four months into her term, she sits down to discuss college life and what it means to be the president of Crowder College.

What does it mean to you to be the President of Crowder College?
I’m actually pretty honored and humbled to get this position. Crowder College is a college with an exceptional reputation out there in the community college world … It’s the kind of college I want to be a part of because it’s the kind of college that makes a whole lot of difference in the lives of an enormous amount of people. And that’s why I do community college work.

Now that you’ve had some time to get acquainted with Crowder, what would you consider its greatest aspect?
Its faculty and staff and their passion for the work that we do. We don’t have employees who are here just drawing a check, we have employees who have sought out work that makes a difference in the lives of the students that they serve and the citizens that they serve. They are very passionate about what they do, and that makes it an enormous place to work and our greatest strength.

Do you have any big plans for Crowder that you hope to incorporate in the near future?
Well, when I got here we had an awful lot of new things going; we have a new campus in McDonald County, we have a new facility in Webb City, we have expanded dorm rooms here on the Neosho campus … so making sure all of those projects that were currently underway get off to a good start. We’re managing it well, we’re handling it well. We have a lot of work to do in McDonald County about accessing potential students there and letting them know we’re there and what it is we can do for them. We’re spending a lot of time with our area employers, making sure that we’re delivering the kind of graduates that they would want to employ. So that continued momentum is my main biggest project; that we continue to serve well in the ways that we have expanded in the last year or two.

What is one interesting fact about yourself that few people know?
Well, perhaps one of the reasons that I’m an educator and that I have known all my life that I wanted to be in community colleges is because I’m a natural lifetime learner. I’m not real happy and satisfied personally unless I’m learning something new and stretching my skills, and that’s part of the attraction of the job, but it’s also what I try to carry out personally. So for instance, I am taking an online course in Laura Ingles Wilder literature, because, I don’t need it for anything, I just find that interesting. I like to be learning … and so I’m serious when I say I’m a lifelong learner.

When you were a student, what was the hardest part for you about college?
Certain subjects were difficult for me. I, like a lot of students, struggled with some of those higher level classes like College Algebra or Trig or Accounting … But again, because I like to be challenged and I like to learn, I also fed off of it and loved being challenged. As an adult learner, later in graduate school, balancing life and work and my boys and what needed to happen at home with us as a family was the most difficult part, so I tend to have a whole lot of empathy and an understanding for our working adult students. And many of those are even 18 year old students, who are working a full or part-time job and trying to go to school and trying to manage to be helpful at home and those sorts of things, so I have a lot of empathy for that. And it is hard to carve out the time to do justice to everything you have to do when you’re a student.

How did you manage to overcome it?
I simply had to be a person who scheduled things a lot. I had to be able to make the decision that my family needs my attention right now, or I do have to work 60 hours this week and it’s my job to do so, or you know what, I need to take a couple vacation days this week because I’ve got to catch myself up as a student. I had to be able to manage all those things.

What was your favorite part about college as a student?
The kind of classrooms where the faculty members structured things so that students learned from one and other. So the kind of classroom where there was lots of discussion, where we discovered the material as opposed to being told the material. That was always enjoyable and rewarding to me, because we’re learning from one and other with one and other, and it didn’t feel so isolated.

Seeing as you have a degree in creative writing, might I ask what kind of things you like to write?
Mostly short stories now. As I’ve gotten busier and busier, I write fewer short stories and more poems. Not that poetry takes less time; it takes less keying time. So when I have a thought I can capture it quickly because it’s just a line or two or three, as opposed to “Oh, another scene has unfolded itself in my mind, I need to sit for an hour and a half and pound this thing out.” But I enjoy both. I’ve also written some plays. I actually got to direct a play that I wrote early on in my career, which was a whole lot of fun to do that. But in the scheme of things, I write more non-fiction these days, simply because of the nature of the job.

Have you ever had anything published?
I have. I’ve had a few short stories published and some poetry published in small literary magazines… and then over the years I’ve had professional things published, like articles and those sorts of things.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Reading, as I mentioned. I’m an avid reader, and I’d much rather read for ways to help me in my profession than to read to relax, as well. I garden, I like to grow things. Even when I have to grow them in the hydroponic unit in the kitchen in the summer, I like growing things. And I’ve spent a great deal of time – my husband and I both have – these last 18 years, in being engaged in the things that our sons do. So when our son’s playing tennis, our hobby is watching our son play tennis, and we’ve been involved in Boy Scouts a lot, and those sorts of things have taken up a lot of our time because spending time with them is the most fun that we have.

If you could give students here at Crowder a piece of advice, what would it be?
On those days when you think you cannot do this, that it is not possible, do not make a decision on that day. Find a group that can hold you up. Don’t let one math problem, one test, one rough week dictate the rest of your life by making a decision by saying, “I can’t do this” or “I can’t do this now.” When you rely on yourself it’s really easy to convince yourself this is too much, I am not capable. And we promise you, it’s not a matter of you not being capable, it’s a matter on those rough days about the way things are lining up for you that day that’s making it too much … So don’t let one day make you quit, you’ll be sorry.