Like many, Emma Fleming began her college career at Clackamas Community College to escape the larger cost of four-year university tuition. As the eldest in her family, she wanted less financial stress while she began “learning to adult.”
“I guess, it felt like I was a kid going into the adults’ universe,” said Fleming, “Kind of intimidating at first because you come in with these preconceived notions of what things are. And then you actually get in classes and you get to meet people, just associating. You can blend in and just get to know people better.”
Fleming worked at the Admissions Welcome Center in Roger Rook, earning a tuition reimbursement.
During that time, she was approached by Lindsay Curletto, an admissions counselor on campus, about the Cougar Connector program.
The Cougar Connector program does outreach to nearby schools, prospective students and current students by organizing guided tours, tabling and visiting other campuses. Overseen by Curletto, this program assists in easing prospective and returning students through their time at CCC.
“This program is really attracted to those who want to be involved with a leadership opportunity, but maybe don’t have a lot of time to give,” Curletto said. “This opportunity is a volunteer based one, and we keep it that way, because the involvement, your commitment level can be as little or as much as you want.”
Students sign up for different jobs and get points for their participation. The point system rewards students based on their engagement level in the program. By stacking points, different rewards open up. The primary tier gives students things like school swag or coffee. Bigger tiers offer gift cards or for more points, a letter of recommendation from an admissions counselor. The big prize is a letter of recommendation from college president Tim Cook.
After about a year in the program, Fleming received this grand prize for her volunteer efforts this winter: a letter from Cook.
“I was super excited because this is a really great opportunity.” Fleming said, “My mom always told me [and] people have always said, ‘Oh you need to, like as soon as you make a good relationship with the professor, get to know somebody, you need to ask for a letter of recommendation.’ And I’ve always been hesitant to do that because I feel awkward, in a way, reaching out like ‘Hey, please write good things about me’ But with this, I don’t have to ask for it, I work for it.”
Fleming, who has attended CCC for just around four years will be transferring to Warner Pacific University to pursue nursing after the upcoming spring term.
The Cougar Connector program prefers applicants who have experience and feel comfortable with public speaking, work well with others or independently, and who are enthusiastic. But as it is open to everyone, there are behind the scenes positions and training offered. Visit clackamas.edu/cougarconnectors or email at email@example.com.