Profiles From a Distance: Pattie Hill’s mission at PCC is supporting students
Prior to the pandemic, when wandering the Sylvania Campus one could find Pattie Hill helping students at the information desk or in the advising office.
Hill, who is the senior office assistant to the Sylvania Associate Dean of Students, supports the advising, testing, orientation, jobs and internships, and career exploration teams. Since the move to remote working, her job has only become more important as she helps students navigate this difficult time and find resources. The 17-year employee, who had a decade-long career as a chef, restaurateur and horticulturist before joining PCC, gives her thoughts on working from home and what she sees in the future.
What has been your favorite part of working from home?
The best part is not having to prepare for work and then commute. I’ve gained at least a couple of hours every day to garden, read, cook, take walks and correspond with family and friends.
What has been the hardest part of working from home?
I miss both colleagues and students. I’m part of a very strong mission-driven team, and I have enjoyed, and now miss, the camaraderie and trust we have built over the years. And I miss the energy and excitement that students generate on campus. A remote-first day of term will not be the same!
How have your priorities changed because of working from home?
I don’t think my priorities have necessarily changed, but the importance of nurturing my relationships with others, even in isolation, has been made very clear to me. But I’ve been surprised by some of the things I’ve learned during this time. To give one example, I have always worked in intensely social environments, and have craved solitude, to the extent that I have long entertained hermit fantasies. “Let me go hide away in a mountain cabin with a dog, a cello and some books,” … that kind of thing. As it turns out, I absolutely require membership in the special kind of enlightened community that exists at PCC.
How would you like to see things evolve if staying at home becomes a long-term situation?
Very few of us have ergonomically equipped workspaces and the constant focus on a small screen for hours at a time is very wearing. I would benefit from having a flexible work schedule that would permit two or three hour-long breaks. The day would be longer, but not as tiring. And when campus does reopen, I can imagine benefiting from a hybrid schedule that combines remote and in-person shifts.
What trends have you seen among students that you work with?
I help process emergency funds for students and support students with academic standing issues. Both roles have always put me in touch with students who are struggling with any number of pressing problems — physical and mental health, low or loss of income, food and housing insecurity, etc. Needless to say, COVID-19 has only worsened many students’ already precarious situations.
What can we (the PCC community) do to help students who you come in contact with?
I’m sure there is always more that PCC can do to help students, but I am very proud of what we have already accomplished in our combined responses to these uncertain times. In just three weeks, PCC figured out how to offer instruction and services remotely. Emergency funds and technology needed for remote coursework were immediately made available to students. Every department has done everything it could to be available and supportive to students. I think PCC has learned a great deal from this time, and our community will only be stronger as a result.