Every semester, approximately 40- 50 new adjuncts are hired at Glendale Community College (GCC). Many are the “freeway flyers” who have taught part time for many years and/or teach at 3 or 4 colleges. Every new employee passes thru Human Resources (HR) when they are hired, and we are usually their first point of contact and information. We can put a face to a name almost always. Adjuncts often come and go, but their contributions to the college and their impact on students while they are here should not be underestimated. Adjuncts often go unrecognized, and this is why I feel compelled to write this tribute and share my story.
The past week has been a rough one. Our campus community lost 2 adjuncts, and it is those times that it is not fun to work in HR. We are often the first people to hear the news, and it hits hard especially when you know or remember the person. I first met Marianne Nikodem in the summer of 2006 at the Garfield campus.
I had just left a corporate position of 14 years as an HR Manager due to a merger. As a senior executive, I always had an assistant to handle all the data entry and computer work. The extent of my computer knowledge was my former company’s HRIS and email. I quickly realized that I needed to expand my skill set. I had earned my degree many moons ago at USC and had been working for quite some time. It was very intimidating to “go back to school.” Bear in mind that I went through college typing all my term papers on a good old Smith Corona electric typewriter. Computers were still very expensive in those days.
I enrolled in Microsoft Office classes at Garfield to brush up on my computer skills in preparation for future employment opportunities. I was excited to learn how to use this software that almost every job requires, and Marianne made it so easy to understand. I can’t tell you the thrill I got when I received my first certificate. I know it sounds crazy, but it almost brought me to tears. I was so proud of my small accomplishment that I rushed home and proudly showed the certificate to my husband. He encouraged me to take more classes, so I did. I enrolled in 5 classes, 3 of which were taught by Marianne.
As a result of taking Marianne’s classes, I was able to find my HR position at GCC. I will be eternally grateful for the knowledge and skills I acquired from her as an instructor. After I was hired, Marianne would drop into the HR office from time to time, and we always reminisced about how it all began when I was her student. It has been 7 years now that I have been a member of the GCC family. I will never forget my 1st GCC instructor who happened to be a Non-credit adjunct.
The moral of the story is for all adjuncts – never underestimate the profound impact you can have on your students’ lives both now and in their futures. You are valuable and appreciated even if it’s not always evident. Rest in peace Marianne, and one final thank you.