An African proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child,” but in the case of Felice Long, a secretary III in the African-American Cultural Studies Program, communal support has helped her reach a goal she has been pursuing for many years: a college degree. This May, Long expects to receive her associate’s degree from Parkland College, a degree that she has been working toward a class or two at a time. During the spring 2005 semester, Long is attending Parkland full time in addition to her full-time job on campus and family responsibilities. But Long credits the support and encouragement of her family, co-workers and the students she works with in helping her achieve her success.
Tell me about your career here at the university.
I’ve worked here since 1991. I started in computer science as a secretary. I worked in the academic office until I transferred to the Bruce D. Nesbitt African-American Cultural Studies Program in 2001.
My responsibilities include processing forms in Banner and doing all the department’s accounting tasks and the student payroll. I hire and supervise student workers, order supplies and food for programs and receptions, make hotel and travel arrangements, reserve vehicles and reconcile the P-card.
We have a Black History Month program, and I send letters out to all the schools inviting them to the program, and I process their payments.
When is your Black History Month program and what does it involve?
It will be held on Feb. 28. We invite elementary and middle schools to a performance related to Black History. Our program this year is called “Sankofa: The Choice.”
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
I would say Banner, but not everything about Banner is challenging and the job aids help tremendously. I really enjoy my job. It’s given me a lot of experience. I’ve been able to learn many different responsibilities in the short time I’ve done this job.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Continuing education, working with the students and the relationships among the staff. We’re like a big family. I feel I have benefited from working here because the programming is very informational and I have learned a lot. I enjoy watching the students conquer their goals, and I really enjoy when they graduate and come back to see me. That is always a joy.
What do you like to do away from work?
I’m taking classes at Parkland to get my degree in general studies and will graduate in May. Then I’m going to go to Eastern Illinois University to get a bachelor’s degree in the Career and Organizational Studies curriculum. School takes up a lot of my spare time and any other spare time I have I spend with my kids. I also love to shop.
What’s motivated you to keep working on your degree all these years?
My children motivate me. You always look at how your parents live and think do I want to live like that or do I want a better standard of living? I want my children to set their goals high. If I set my goals high, hopefully my children will set their goals higher than mine.
I stopped working on my education when I had my children and then I decided to go back to school and finish what I started. There’s light at the end of the tunnel because I’ll get my associate of arts degree in May, and hopefully a bachelor’s soon and a master’s on down the road. I know it’s taking me a long time to finish my associate’s degree, and it may take me many more years to complete all my educational goals, but I have completely dedicated myself to achieving them.
Another good motivator for me was to have the staff I work with encourage me to keep going. Everybody in the department always has encouraged me to continue with my education. I think that’s a blessing to have people you work with encourage you to get your education.