By Hayley Hunt
Tamara White was born in Denver, CO, but bounded around Arizona and Illinois for 10 years before coming back home. White accepted the position of assistant vice principal of student support and enrollment in May 2019.
White decided to work with FRCC due to her interest in the pathways program and equity work, the smaller size of the institution and the “great staff and teams.” She also said that “the person that [was] in the role is someone that I have respected for years.”
“When the position became available, I… wanted to apply for that position because I have always wanted to do that role,” and “when I started doing research and saw the work that your institution was doing, I was definitely interested in the Pathways accomplishments that you all have done, interested in the equity work you all are embarking on, and interested in the size of the institution.” Working at FRCC is helping her get more experience in student affairs, registration, and financial aid.
Some hobbies of hers are crocheting blankets and scarves, reading, and watching The Princess Bride, directed by Rob Reiner. When she is not enjoying free time, White is writing her dissertation for her doctorate. She is working towards her Ph.D. in higher education with a focus on African American women in predominantly white institutions.
What White looks forward to most about working at FRCC is the staff and the students, as well as how the people working in her department already know what they are doing and are focused on student success. Her daily schedule includes listening to a book on tape for the car ride, answering emails, going to meetings, speaking with her supervisor and, “spend(ing) at least one day a week at each campus,” to talk to the staff.
For college, White went to the University of Denver, where she began getting involved with the school programs such as resident assistant, orientation leaders, student organizations, and executive boards. She started as an accounting major but switched to marketing, with a minor in finance. After getting her bachelor’s, White went to Western Illinois University for her graduate degree in higher education.
White has had the experience of being a hall director, working in student activities, multicultural affairs and leadership, and the women’s resource center. She wrote policies for the state, and helped revise the admissions standard policy for the state of Colorado. Afterwards, she moved onto the Colorado Department of Higher Education. She was then able to apply her knowledge from the K-12 system to higher ed policy, where she was the liaison, a person who helps coordinate activities between two organizations, on graduation guidelines.
White said, “It’s really cool now to see all the conversations around the graduation guidelines,” She went on to discuss how her previous work is making an impact today. “The policy work that I was doing then it’s just now having an impact, and to see how it impacts the work that we do now, but the work that happened then to lay the foundation for what’s happening now.”
With challenges that came up along the way leading White to where she is now, she simply said that, “there are always challenges, and I think that you have to use challenges to help you grow.” One example she gave was when she was in her last role, when she was supervising a department in student affairs, where there was a challenge with a student. White supported the director in the decision-making for the students future, but she did not do her fact checking and policy checking. This resulted in significant ramifications. She took responsibility for it and stated,“When you make a mistake, take what’s yours, own it, and figure out how you can do better next time.” Thus, she ensured she would not make the same mistake again.
When asked what she is most proud of, White said there were two things. One being the work that she did at UCCA surrounding the guided pathways, where the deans were asked to create meta majors. White took the lead in designing how their guided pathways would look at that college.
She is also proud of the work around inclusive excellence, where she was able to be a part of the starting group and committee. Now there is training for staff and faculty, including workshops that are designed to help them further their teachings. White helped build the programs and make them include people, as well as look at how students would respond to the program in a way that will make them feel included.
White has accomplished many things in her years of teaching, and has always found a way to use past experiences to better her future endeavors. She continues to enjoy her position of assistant vice president of student support & enrollment services at Front Range Community College in order to help students as others have helped her.