Over the past 29 years, La Wanda Goodwin’s career at Richmond Community College has offered her rewarding challenges and plenty of opportunities for personal growth.
She retired April 1 to spend more time with her family, friends, and personal interests.
“I love RCC! As a firm believer in community colleges, I know first-hand that education is a lifelong process.I feel your education gives you an obligation to make a difference in people’s lives.I’ve had that mindset in working with students, especially the tutors in the Guided Studies Center,” said Goodwin.
For the past decade, she has tutored students in everything from algebra to writing term papers. She has headed the department since 2006. She recruits tutors and pairs them with students needing their skill sets.
“I’ve developed a passion for this program. Each student is special, and I’ve enjoyed seeing the ‘light bulb’ go on as each tutor finds a way to help other students understand their lessons. Studying is not always easy, but once the realization of a process becomes evident to a student, it’s pure joy to watch,” she said.
Goodwin said a former RCC president once said you never tell someone you don’t know the answer to their question.
“You always tell them you’ll get back to them with an answer. I’ve learned so much finding those answers. And, too, the students have kept me up-to-date on the newest technologies. These kids probably started texting at the age of three! As an avid FaceBook user, I’ve found it is the quickest communication method to reach them. I enjoy ‘Googling’ and using YouTube tutorials. If you want to know how to hook up a computer to your television or replace a leaking kitchen sink faucet, it’s on YouTube!” she said.
Before moving to the Guided Studies Center, Goodwin was the director of the Planning and Institutional Research Department of the college. She was responsible for getting all departments on campus to set measurable goals for the next year, base budget requests on those goals, and evaluate activities at the end of the year to see if goals were met. She was also a numbers cruncher who gathered data from state reports and campus computer systems. She was in this position during the 1990s and held state offices, including the presidency, in the N.C. Planning and Research Organization.
“The Orange Blossom Special brought me to RCC in 1982. I was the secretary for a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to highlight railroading in the Sandhills. In October 1982, we held a street fair in Hamlet that served as the foundation for the Seaboard Festival. That was extremely rewarding,” she said.
Her love of the arts brought her to campus in 1976 as an actress in “The Justice of our Cause,” a play written for the county’s bicentennial and performed in the college amphitheater. As president of the Richmond County Arts Council, she spearheaded The Renaissance Feaste in 1991. This partnership between the council, local community colleges, and the public school system resulted in an evening of food, music, and festivities at Steeples restaurant in Hamlet.
“The faculty, staff, and students at the college have all touched my life in so many ways. I’ve gone through so many life changes and felt supported by so many people. You truly could not ask for a better place to work,” she said.
RCC Dean of Learning Resources Carolyn Bittle said Goodwin leaves the Guided Studies Center with an excellent foundation for the next coordinator.
“Accountability is an issue with all areas of the college, and knowing how many students utilize our services in the Learning Resources Center is no exception. Through La Wanda’s insight, she developed and implemented procedures that eliminated many errors that occurred when doing paperwork manually. Computer software was implemented that allows us to track the many users of the Guided Studies Center, along with their reasons for using the facility. She has been a real asset,” said Bittle.
RCC President Dr. Dale McInnis said the college was built by employees like Goodwin.
“Her long and extensive service to the college and students is deeply appreciated. We wish her well in this next phase of her life,” he said.