Thursday, March 26, 2009
OU alum helps area residents boost job skills
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant
|OU grad Norine McElroy assists a student at the Administrative Assistant Academy at Macomb Community College. McElroy graduated from OU in 2005.
Oakland University alumna Norine McElroy recently became a full-time instructor at Macomb Community College’s newly unveiled Administrative Assistant Academy. A 2005 graduate of Oakland’s Master of Training and Development program, McElroy started teaching at Macomb in fall 2008. She brings a wealth of experience, having served the college as an administrative assistant for 12 years.
In her new role, McElroy is responsible for developing a course curriculum, managing the budget, ordering course materials and conducting class sessions, which run five days a week for a total of eight weeks. The 240-hour curriculum consists of hands-on training in various computer applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. In addition, students learn keyboarding skills, grammar and punctuation, basic bookkeeping, office procedures, records management and customer service.
McElroy’s leadership and dedication have drawn praise from colleagues, including Fran Sturtz, director of continuing education at Macomb.
“Norine has crafted a top of the line administrative assistant curriculum and in the classroom she makes it a personal journey of discovery for every one of her students,” said Sturtz. “We’re so fortunate to have an individual who works with her students from the mind and from the heart.”
The Administrative Assistant Academy is among several new programs established under a $738,486 federal grant to provide job training and assistance to area residents in collaboration with Michigan Works! Macomb is one of six local institutions to receive the funding in support of the JET Plus jobs, education and training program, a workforce development initiative aimed at helping residents transition from state assistance into high-demand career fields.
“Macomb has always made an effort to respond to the needs of the community,” McElroy said. “I’m very proud to be a part of such an outstanding institution that is willing to partner with the state of Michigan as we all work through some of the most challenging economic times many of us have ever witnessed.”
In addition to job training, students also get help crafting a resume, cover letter, portfolio and reference list. Macomb’s Career Services department arranges for several days of on-campus job shadowing which gives students a first-hand look at the daily duties of administrative staff. McElroy also follows up with students regularly to determine if they have found work and provide job leads.
McElroy said she works with students from varying backgrounds, but all share the desire to make a better life for themselves.
“All of my students are what I consider to be non-traditional,” she explained, adding that only a few had taken college courses in the past. “The one thing they all have in common is that they are seeking new skills to move into a new career path.”
In early March, a graduate of McElroy’s inaugural class testified before the Michigan House Appropriations Subcommittee on Community Colleges. Wendy Goodcourage told a panel of state lawmakers that she wanted “a new direction” in life and credited the administrative assistant program with helping her forge a new path.
While such remarks shed light on McElroy’s merit as an educator, she remains focused on her students. “My goal is to have each student who enrolls complete the program successfully,” she said.