All posts by Lorelei Konopka

My Inspiration

The love for learning, the love for inspiring, and the love for building a better tomorrow come to mind when I think about those who have been my superheroes and for those who I hope to become a superhero for in the future. 

My parents (AKA my superheroes) knew all along my destination was to make “going to school” my career. From the time I could remember, I would “play school” with my two younger sisters in our basement, using old workbooks and even having recess in the yard. Yep, the good ‘ol days of telling them what to do 😉 What I didn’t realize in those moments, was how gratifying it felt to watch my little sisters do something they didn’t think they could. 

Fast forward a few decades, all grown up but my family would say that I haven’t changed a bit.  They are my superheroes and the ones who gave me the inspiration to inspire others.  They are the ones who let me find the love for learning through my love for them. And, my nephews have become the ones that remind me why it is so important to make tomorrow even better than today. 

My hope is that we each find a way to appreciate the gifts of our superheroes and to maximize our talents. Superheroes bring their best selves each and every day and I couldn’t imagine a world without them. 


Walking the Trail

During the pandemic I was adjusting to a new leadership role, overseeing the North Campus, with very few people around. Most of us were jumping from meetings in a virtual day that seemed to never end.  Long days often filled with screen time, focusing on decisions about how to keep our employees safe, ensuring that learning was able to take place, and providing services to our students was no small task. The level of stress, demand on mental energy, and the anxiety of unknowns created leadership experiences that were not written about in books.  I remember vividly the numerous impromptu meetings scheduled to address “a new development.” 

Everyone’s world was changed as a result of the pandemic. While I learned that my work office was wherever I was and the comforts of routine and predictability were truly disrupted, I realized that my ability to persevere through these changes was rooted in a casual walk, along the back of the North Campus, on the short unpaved trail between the buildings and the open land. There were plenty of times I walked that trail so my eyes could readjust from the screen time.  There were plenty of other times that I used that walk to decompress about a situation, talk with a colleague, or just be in the moment. The North Campus trail became my symbol of connection- the connection to nature, to people, and to myself. During a time when connections were lost and replaced by virtual distance, the significance of the North Campus trail gave me the outlet that I really didn’t have elsewhere and will always have a special place in my professional journey.


The Neurodiverse Learner

After reviewing some of the amazing resources compiled by our own Roxanna Dewey, this image spoke to me.

It inspired me to try something completely different and challenged my thinking. I have a sister with Downs Syndrome and a nephew with ADHD. This poem is dedicated to them and their relentless pursuit for happiness and belonging.

In the realm of learning, a different kind of pace,

Neurodivergent journey, a unique embrace.

Words may dance, and numbers may speak,

A symphony of learning, where strengths peak.

Challenges woven in the mosaic of thought,

Yet resilience blooms, a lesson well-taught.

Minds may wander through a different haze,

Neurodivergent learner, embracing diverse ways.

Unlocking potentials, like keys in a song,

Learning’s rhythm, where strengths belong.

A canvas of minds, where colors combine,

Neurodivergent learner, let your brilliance shine.


Moments of Learning

My parents could have predicted it, but it took me walking into the classroom for the very first time in 2005, to realize that my greatest purpose was being able to impact students’ lives in ways that others could not. To this day, my “happy place” is the classroom. There is something about being in the moment, talking about a topic, and embracing the student experience of learning all within a period of time. So true that not all teaching experiences are transcendent and some of our best laid plans to inspire learning do not prevail. But, at the core of a faculty is a Moment Maker. 

This week, I learned so much from being in the classroom, watching our faculty in action. Class observations hold important value to me because I get the chance to go back into my “happy place” and experience the moments of learning and the excellence of teaching. Highlights from this week include:

  • Professional communication framework that nurses use to be succinct, clear, and direct when sharing patient information knowing that these “are not social conversations.”
  • The skin of an apple is a great illustration of various pressure injuries. I will never look at an apple in quite the same way as I recall stages 1-4 of pressure injuries.
  • Some of our best research content is on the “deep web” and our wonderful GCC Library databases can help us find the best sources to inform a topic.
  • And a nice reminder that “Research is about seeing connections between things and not just searching!”

Everyday can be a day of learning, a day for a new experience, or  a new moment. Our faculty embrace these opportunities; as I have grown as a professional and in my reflection of purpose, the drive for learning something new every day takes me back to my “happy place.” So, when was the last time I learned something new?  That answer is right now- I am always in the moment of learning.


No Way! Not in My Car:  The Rise of Mobile Workspaces…

In the era of remote work, and the habits of increased multi-tasking,  unconventional yet practical alternatives to traditional office spaces have arisen. Alas, office meet car! !  Now,  as innovative and convenient as this may be, I find this newly formed behavior of mine to be quite conflicting.  

While I love the idea of flexibility and improved efficiency in my daily schedule, I am fairly certain my  ‘73 Dodge Dart was not intended as a mobile office. Mechanically sound, but technologically challenged, my hotrod is not ideal for the multi-screened Google Meets, while shifting between gears and navigating so many open tabs on my browser with a laptop as my passenger. Don’t worry, I only turn my video on when I am at a complete stop. All joking aside,  I never would have thought that calling into a meeting, responding to a Chat, or answering an email, all hands-free while driving to my next destination would have become part of my new version of an office. 

Appreciating the inspirational moments where my office and my expressions of self collide, I cannot help wondering how I can optimally integrate these worlds into a balance that my mobile workspace simply wasn’t designed to do.  The balancing act of working and living have intertwined as I cruise in my hotrod, hearing the rumble of the engine, the chimes from email notifications, with the recognition that my office, my space, and my work will forever be changed.