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Spotlight On: Sue Keener

Shine a Light on Lewis and Clark Community College Executive Secretary to the President and the Board of Trustees, Sue Keener
Program: President's office

Shine the Light

Shine the Light is a series of interviews conducted by L&C's Science of Happiness class spotlighting faculty and staff members who make a difference in our community and the world.

Name: Sue Keener
Degree: Cooperative Honors Secretarial Program, Hickey School (now Hickey College)
Years at L&C: 9
Role: Executive Secretary to the President and Board of Trustees

What brought you to L&C

Q: When you were young, what did you dream of becoming? Why?
A: I wanted to be a Teacher or a Secretary. I had experience teaching at church before I graduated high school. I loved working with young people and helping them learn. I wanted to be a Secretary because I enjoyed the supportive role, behind the scenes. I enjoyed writing and accounting from an early age as well.

Q: What did you do before starting at Lewis and Clark?
A: I have been an Executive Secretary since I was 19 years old. I started in the field of banking, moved to an elementary education institution and now higher education. I worked for the owner of Illinois State Bank who put me in contact with people that work for Lewis and Clark. I started work at the school in 2011.

Your work at L&C

Q: Has your role changed since you were hired?
A: My role is the same but, of course, the major change is I now have a new boss, President Trzaska :)

Q: What have you learned from being on campus? Any life lessons?
A: You are never too old to learn something new. Also, there is a huge difference between working in a corporate culture and higher education because the end product is not profit margins or a higher stock value. The end product is changed lives. Lewis and Clark meets people where they are and helps them to be able to support their families and their communities. Even though I don’t usually see students, except at commencement, I still feel like my daily work supports our students and my community.

Q: What is the best experience you had while on campus?
A: I love Commencement. As I said, I don’t usually see students. When I see the graduates or read their stories in the paper or LCeNews, it makes my work more meaningful.

Shining a Light

Q: What outside or on campus activities do you do that helps people stay connected and positive? How do you contribute to making this world a better place? Why do you think that that is important?
A: I work with the youth group at my church and my husband is a deacon. The pandemic has made this work difficult but the needs are greater than ever. Our society has been somewhat disconnected for a long time. People don’t know their neighbors or have close relationships with people they can call when they need help—a ride to the doctor or someone to bring a meal or groceries (or even Lysol and toilet paper :) ) when they are ill, for example. We have been very focused on meeting the tangible needs of our friends and community. Looking beyond myself and my needs keeps my mental health and well-being in check.

Q: What is your advice for students? What words of wisdom would you like to share (yours or others)?
A: There is a practice I learned long ago, actually at a conference hosted at L&C, called “reframing.” Sometimes we are so overwhelmed with our current situation and whatever seems to be going wrong at the time that we miss out on the good that is occurring. For example, an exercise I did with the youth was ask them, “What did the disruption in your school and social schedule enable you to do that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise?” One of the athletes said,” I learned how to rebuild a carburetor.” With no sports practices, he was able to work on his car with his dad. Another said, “I learned to cook,” and another said she was able to start working before she graduated and earned enough money to buy a car. Personally, my mother was in hospice at my brother’s house. Because I was working remotely, I was able to spend more time with her and care for her needs during the last few months of her life. Those good outcomes would not have happened if we didn’t have this major interruption in our lives. I believe this work and this mindset are important in understanding and demonstrating the world doesn’t revolve around us. There are situations where a job is just a way to earn money to do what you want to do. Not every job is going to fill your life with joy and give life meaning. It is really hard to work long hours day after day if the work isn’t rewarding and you don’t feel like you are making a difference. The time we spend on this earth is about way more than how we earn a living. It is about who we are when we grow up—hopefully kind, dependable, honest, hardworking people. That is what I want to be . . . when I grow up.

This interview, is a part of our “Shine the Light” series, brought to you by L&C’s Science of Happiness class. For more information, contact cchapman@lc.edu.