Conference fuels happy factor for admin assistants

The phone rings just as your supervisor asks about a mailing you were scheduled to send out … yesterday. Your email “in” box is overflowing. The client who just left said, “Have a nice day,” and you feel just a little guilty that you didn’t offer the same encouragement.

Thank goodness for the Administrative Assistants Conference sponsored by Business & Industry at Seward County Community College/Area Technical School, in partnership with the Liberal Chamber of Commerce. The event, designed to refresh and inspire office professionals, served as a game-changer, organizers said.

“We set up this one-day training event to help administrative employees do more than just get through the day,” said SCCC/ATS Business & Industry Director Norma Jean Dodge. “Our hope was that each participant would return to his or her job renewed, energized, and brimming with fresh ideas and strategies that made an immediate difference in his or her performance, attitude, and productivity.”

Keynote speaker Celeste Donovan knows just what it takes to work in the midst of hustle and bustle. As the SCCC/ATS Dean of Student Services, Donovan manages a plethora of duties, from budget and finance details to employee management and training.

“It’s important not to let stress get to you,” Donovan is known to say with a smile. Donovan shared specific techniques on how to stay happy, cope with life’s inevitable curve balls, and do it all with humor, resilience and tenacity.

Donovan, who earned the Liberal Chamber of Commerce “Ambassador of the Year” award in March for her unfailing support of local businesses and the people who make them successful, wasn’t the only mentor on the podium. Jack Jacob, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Liberal, shared tips on how to handle a variety of social and business situations, navigate different communication styles, and how to stay professional even when emotions run high.

“Jack had us laughing and learning during his hilarious yet informative session,” Dodge said.

SCCC/ATS Dean of Academic Affairs Cynthia Rapp guided participants back to the days of kindergarten with an inspiring and touching session that “reminded us of what’s important in life,” Rapp said. “We need to remember how to live simply and kindly.” Rap, who will retire from SCCC/ATS in June, shared this session with college employees in January, and the workshop was hugely successful, Dodge said.

“I wanted everyone to have a chance to learn from Cynthia,” she said.

SCCC/ATS instructional designer Jay Castor rounded out the speakers panel with his strategies for organization and productivity. “These are tools anyone can use to keep a workspace organized and effective, both on the computer and at a desk,” Dodge said. The tips Castor shared can serve well at home, as well as work, she said.

“Overall, this was an unprecedented opportunity for one to learn and grow professionally,” Dodge said. “It’s a first for Liberal and we’re really looking forward to the positive effect on the community as a whole.”

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