Susan Monahan lives and works by the modified lyrics of one of her favorite Jimmy Buffet songs: “It’s my job to be the best I can be, and that makes the day for me.” As the career/transfer advisor at Mission College, Monahan meets with dozens of students each week, coordinates the annual college fair, plans the annual college counselors’ breakfast, and is involved in a number of outreach programs for the community college. So it should come as no surprise that Monahan received a state-wide Classified Employee of the Year award at the monthly meeting of the California Community College Board of Directors in Sacramento on May 10.
“It’s a pleasure to win this,” Monahan says. “I want to thank my parents and my family, all very important to me. I want to thank Dan Matarangas, the former vice president of Mission College, for hiring me 21 years ago. I have to thank the people for nominating me and they include Dr. Laurel Jones, the president of the college, Penny Johnson, the vice-president of the college, My Loi, the president of the classified senate, and Tim Karas, the educational dean.”
Monahan talks about her different projects and responsibilities at the school.
“Mission College has been hosting the Western Association of College Admissions Counselors fair, also known as the WACAC fair, for 13 years,” Monahan says. “It’s a county-wide college fair with representatives from over 150 colleges all over the country who attend the event. Prior to [the WACAC fair], there’s a high school counselor breakfast with 100 counselors and advisors who come to the meeting at Mission to do prep for the college fair.”
“In my office, all students can take a free assessment to help make some decisions about what they love to do, and what their next steps should be,” Monahan continues. “I offer my support and they always leave my office with a plan for their next steps.”
Those who work with Monahan say she is extremely deserving of the award.
“Susan is a superstar at the college,” says My Loi, president of the classified senate at Mission College and part of the team that nominated Monahan for the award. “She works well with students, faculty, administrators, community members, and the classified staff. She has helped many students during college and when they move on. She has cultivated a lot of student leaders.”
One of these emerging leaders is Artie Lashbrook, an individual Monahan has advised. Lashbrook, a resident of San Jose, currently works at the school’s information desk as a volunteer ambassador for the college.
“I graduated from Mission College with degrees in liberal arts, social science, and sociology,” says Lashbrook. “Susan helped me work on my transfer and my degree. Susan’s a second mom to the students. She always has an open door. And she always has snacks too.”
“I want to do something in the field of social work to help disabled or homeless people or individuals in rehab,” Lashbrook continues. “I myself was homeless for a year and a half and I lived in the Salvation Army’s Emmanuel House. Susan always gave me guidance and encouragement. She really encouraged me to go forward and use what I’ve learned to help others.”