Margaret C. “Peggy” Day, an office support specialist in the Office of Online and Continuing Education, practices what she preaches.
Her office serves numerous colleges and units by managing their degree and non-degree online course registration processes, and she is involved with everything from registration to guiding students through their chosen degree program.
But recently she became more of an active participant.
“I actually took my own advice and have been taking online classes,” she said. “So far I have enjoyed every aspect of it. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher.”
She said the approach is not that different from how she has faced other aspects of her life: “You take one step at a time and do what’s most important first.”
That motivation was at work when she came to the university nearly 10 years ago, starting with a similar office title in 2003 at the College of Education. She moved to her current spot because of its potential for advancement.
“I really liked working at the College of Education because it allowed me to do a lot of different things,” she said. “But I’ve really enjoyed working here too; I’ve seen a lot of growth in the online learning environment in the past nine years. Online learning and its processes are different because it’s not a normal campus environment.”
She said she still gets to use a variety of skills, but the most important is communication, as she is many times the first voice students associate with the university.
“Being patient and understanding is a very important part of my job,” she said. “I treat every student I talk to like a new freshman because I want to put them at ease and walk them through where they need to be.”
She said she assists hundreds of students each semester, all of them with different backgrounds and from different locations, which changes her expectation of the job each day.
“I work with a wide variety of students from throughout the world and I find it very exciting,” she said. “I could be working with a high school student one day or a student who is 70 the next.”
Day is quick to point out she’s not an adviser, though that doesn’t mean she doesn’t share advice with students seeking extra assistance or offer encouragement to students who need it.
“I’ll answer any question I can or I’ll find the answer,” she said. “I like coordinating things and helping make the system run as efficiently as possible. My biggest message is don’t give up – keep going toward your goal.”
She said she is fortunate to have such a qualified staff around her.
“It takes a whole team to make it happen and we have a very talented group of people in this office,” she said. “Every day is a learning experience here.”
Day is originally from Tuscola, Ill., one of 11 siblings whose father was a small-
business owner very involved in his community.
“He also liked helping people,” she said. “It’s amazing how many people my dad touched.”
Day has three daughters – one a graduate of the UI, another a graduate of Eastern Illinois University and the youngest a senior at the UI. Her husband of 23 years died about 10 years ago.
His death led her to become heavily involved with the Gift of Hope Foundation, for which she served as a guest speaker for Secretary of State Jesse White’s statewide organ-donation program.
“I’m not as involved in it as I was in the past, but I still support its mission and am a firm believer of the importance of awareness the organization promotes,” she said.