All posts by Nicola Perry


I love change.

I went to four colleges (PC, Texas A&M, Galveston College, ASU) over five years for one degree. And that included three different degree programs (Marine Biology, Maritime Engineering, Justice Studies).   My Master’s is in a completely different field, my EdS in another, and heck, I may even go back to Law School!

While @ ASU for my undergrad, I lived in four different places (Phoenix, Ahwatukee, Scottsdale, Mesa) in two years.   I love the chance to find new grocery stores, new restaurants, new running routes. I love white walls that I can make my own. I change cars every two years. I change bags with seasons. I love change.

My hairdresser loves me because every two months I like something different; color, bangs, layers, you name it – I’m open. It’s hair. It will grow back/out/in/over.

My diet; that I don’t change. I have found what works for me and I love it. I may change the vegetables on my salad, but otherwise, that’s not an environment that’s conducive to change. But food is my fuel that allows me to go after everything else with such a healthy passion and to have the energy to change. So I don’t mess with my fuel.

When you find what works for you; stick with it. But if something doesn’t work or doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid of something better.  When you’ve learned what you needed to learn with a given situation, accept the learning and move on to learn something else! Whether it’s a relationship, a hobby, a life lesson or even a degree! Change = learning = growth = evolving!


Being a GCC Ambassador

It’s pretty cool when you are recognized off-campus as a GCC employee, especially when you aren’t wearing your Gaucho Gear. We go through the internal process of:

  1. Why is that person staring at me?
  2. Do I know this person? Should I know this person?

Then they say, “You were my _____ teacher at GCC!” and then I think:

  1. Wait, what am I wearing right now, do I look presentable?
  2. How did they do in the class?
  3. How nice that they remembered me and their experience at GCC!

So then I get over my fears of being caught at the grocery store in sweats, with no make-up, and actually settle in to learn about where  they are in life and what they are doing currently.

This is the most rewarding part.

As much as it’s healthy to carve out a piece of your life just for you, when you live, breathe and believe in higher education, it is hard to separate that part of your life. Whether we know it or not, we are all ambassadors for GCC. I had this conversation about seven years ago with Rick Watts (you might know him) as we felt so strongly about the honor and privilege of representing GCC when outside of work hours.   Jim Reed and I frequently celebrate these occurrences, as this is a huge source of pride for Jim (I know, really!).  I love to work with people who feel this is a career with benefits beyond pay and who understand the impact they can make – these are my fellow ambassadors!


Educating the Whole Person

Educating the Whole Person

Depending on what brings you to work every day, this may mean something different to each of us. Counseling, Advising, Teaching, Coaching…..  What does this mean to you, and how do you help to make this happen? This post is less of a one-sided submittal, and intended to be more of a two-way exchange (or larger conversation).

Do you feel our job as community college educators, coaches,  and leaders is to ‘educate the whole person’?  Or, should we stick to the traditional ‘Three R’s’ mindset? And, why do you feel the way you do?

According to our last CCSSE & SENSE surveys (2011), over 76% of our students report never working with instructors or faculty outside of class assignments, 33% report never discussing career plans with their advisor or instructors, and only 50% of students reported discussing ideas from readings or class with others outside of class often.

Faculty & staff interactions provide an opportunity to educate the whole person, but my question is: if we buy-in to that premise, what can each of us do better every day to make that be a true statement?

I’m hoping we hold this discussion as a daily reminder of the importance of EVERY.SINGLE.INTERACTION. with our students and the impact we can make in educating the whole person.

Your turn………








How can we make college work for everyone? (complete w/references)

A challenge facing higher education professionals today is the issue of student success; why do some students persist in college and flourish, while others leave?  Researchers have hypothesized, measured, and made recommendations on this topic using seminal theories such as Astin’s (1984, 1999) theory of student involvement and Tinto’s (1997) updated longitudinal model on student departure and integration. Additionally, Rendón’s (1994, 2002) theory of validation has been found to be effective with non-traditional college student populations while the Social Identity Theory (Brown, 2000) has been used to illustrate the connection between group membership, self-esteem, external behaviors and student success. Despite, or perhaps because of, the plethora of theories, the field remains muddled as investigators are not using the same variables nor employing similar methodologies to define student success, a construct critical to accomplishing the mission of higher education.

As these theories are explored, their similarities become apparent; leading one to believe that they are not distinct and separate, but rather overlapping and evolving from each other. Rather than viewing student development theories as separate entities when attempting to understand the elements contributing to student success, the theories should be viewed as overlapping circles in a Venn diagram. Each theory contains elements of previous theories, but also builds upon the other to create a more accurate and relevant model for those it seeks to serve.

By understanding the integration and synthesis of applicable theoretical frameworks and conceptual principles related to student success, practitioners and researchers alike can move forward with designing and assessing programs intended to foster success in unique student populations, such as ours. Acknowledging the challenges facing our young people as they transition to college and beyond requires student affairs staff, faculty and counselors to utilize a theoretical framework that includes the student’s past, present and future while understanding the multiple roles these individuals are expected to juggle. Balancing these expectations, roles and outcomes is critical to the success of our student population.

References (I wasn’t kidding!)

  • Astin, A.W. (1984). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25(4), 297-308.
  • Astin, A.W. (1999). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Development, 40(5), 518-529.
  • Brown, R. (2000). Social identity theory: Past achievements, current problems and future challenges. European Journal of Social Psychology, 30, 745.778.  doi:10.1002/1099- 0992 (200011/12)
  • Rendón, L.I. (1994). Validating culturally diverse students: Towards a new model of learning and student development. Innovative Higher Education, 19(1), 33-50.
  • Rendón, L.I. (2002). Community College Puente: A validating model of education. Educational Policy, (16), 642-667. doi:10.1177/0895904802016004010
  • Tinto, V. (1997). Classrooms as communities: Exploring the educational character of student persistence. Journal of Higher Education, 686, 599-623.

I believe in you.

6th grade. I don’t even remember her name, but my 6th grade teacher commended me on using the correct too (two/to/too).   It was at that point I felt that what I had to say (and write) in class mattered.  It set a standard for me academically; and I didn’t want to be less than what the teacher said I was (smart!).

I wish I could remember her name and thank her for believing in me more than I did.