In the spring of 2021, FRCC Westminster had a change in leadership. Dr. Tricia Johnson, who had formerly worked as the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Community College of Aurora, took over as Vice President of Westminster/North Metro at FRCC. Dr. Johnson was gracious enough to answer a few questions so that we can all learn more about her.
What led you to make the transition to FRCC Westminster from Community College of Aurora?
I loved my position at the Community College of Aurora and making the decision to leave was a difficult one for me. The vast majority of my career has been within the instructional realm, in and around classroom instructional delivery, and I have loved that. However, in the future, I would like to be a college president. As I thought about my career aspirations, I recognized areas where I needed professional growth. The Campus Vice President position at FRCC Westminster and Brighton enabled me to not only apply skills from my previous positions but, more importantly, to learn more about student affairs and facilities operations. All of these pieces together are what make a successful college!
What changes are you hoping to make at FRCC Westminster in your role as VP?
First, I have to say how impressed I am with the faculty, instructors, staff, and students at FRCC Westminster and Brighton. There are countless great things happening here. I do have a few areas where I am excited to see growth. First, my biggest priority is to enhance student voice and student perspective. Decisions we make should be based on how you all are experiencing our college. This includes everything from ways that we can enhance our physical spaces to how you experience belonging at FRCC to what classes and programs we offer. Next, we will be digging into our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Several years ago, FRCC drafted our Philosophy of Inclusion. We need to engage in meaningful dialogue on how this philosophy shows up, or not, within our campus/center community. I envision working alongside you all to learn where we are hitting the mark and where we need to work harder, so that everyone feels their identity is reflected when it comes to being an FRCC student.
What advice do you have for someone hoping to have a similar career path?
My biggest recommendation is to say, “Yes.” Take on challenges that present themselves to you. If you are given an opportunity to help out or take on additional responsibilities, do it! I am a big believer in the criticality of being a life-long learner. I can honestly say that the past 18 months are more challenging that I ever could have imagined. I believe that, because I have stepped up throughout my career to help out when a colleague was on leave or when a position was vacant, I was that much more prepared to deal with the constant uncertainty due to COVID. Also, keep getting back up, especially when you are exhausted or you are not especially confident in yourself. I am a first-generation college student, and I cannot tell you how many times I second-guessed myself or experienced “imposter syndrome.” You will face adversity; you will have setbacks. I definitely have seen those throughout my life. Dust yourself off, reflect on what you have learned about yourself, and go back at it. It will get just a little easier every time.
What are you most excited for in your new role?
Determining what I am most excited for in this role is a challenging question. There are so many great things I look forward to. High on the list, however, is connecting with our community. Between work with local businesses and the chambers of commerce to partnership with the Adams County Workforce & Business Center to collaboration with nonprofits serving the community, there is so much opportunity to connect our amazing student body with the community. I am a big believer in the fact that you all, our students, bring immense assets and inherent value to FRCC and our community the moment to step onto the campus/center. I really am looking forward to ways that we can enhance partnerships in the community to maximize leadership opportunities for you all and build bridges for connections to help you in your future careers.
What are you most excited for this semester?
For this semester, I am most excited to see you back! I worked a bunch of welcome tables during the first week of classes, which was such a phenomenal opportunity. I got a chance to help lots of folks find classrooms and help some folks who were just a little anxious about starting college. The best part, though, is seeing you all in the hallways, getting to say hello, and offering some help. Since I started in January, most days on campus I only had the chance encounter with one, maybe two students. For a person who has committed 20 years of her life to education and teaching, that was really weird. Seeing you back on campus has rejuvenated me. I am excited for us to be together, to watch out for the health and well-being of one another, and to commit to our FRCC community.
What do you like to do outside of work?
When I am not sitting on the sidelines cheering on my daughter while she plays soccer, I am spending time with my husband of 21 years. One thing about me is that I absolutely love live music. That is something that has been difficult for me during COVID – not being able to enjoy and support the artists in a live environment. One of the things that drew my husband and me together was our love of music. If it is a date night, chances are we are at the Ogden, The Gothic Theatre, Mission Ballroom, Larimer Lounge, among others. I cannot tell you how excited I am that live music is back. My calendar is lined up with at least one show a month for the foreseeable future. Hey, you might have even come across me at the Underground Music Showcase (aka UMS), if you are a music lover, too.