Carole Read Lauded in Retirement
“My teachers in high school wanted me to teach”, says Carole Read, Financial Aid Coordinator at Eastern Shore Community College in Melfa. “I knew that wasn’t what I wanted, and I also didn’t want to go into the medical field.” She says when she graduated from Nandua High School in 1987, the only thing that was clear was that there was a general consensus that it would be good for her to get experience off the Eastern Shore.
As the oldest of four siblings, Carole heeded that advice and enrolled at Old Dominion University. While embarking on her studies, she also followed the guidance of ODU recruiter, Ron DelDuca, who hired her as a campus tour guide. This was a role she would hold for four years while finishing her degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resource Management.
“I didn’t realize it at the time, but the roles I took on with my work study job would lead to a satisfying career in which I could not have foreseen in my wildest dreams” as Carole worked at Saturday Open Houses for Student Services, and was even involved in the “Students Recruiting Students” Program at ODU. When she graduated in 1991, she still wasn’t exactly clear on her next step.
“My parents were very supportive and told me I didn’t have to make a decision right away.” She had already gained some experience in the financial world with summer work at Farmers and Merchants Bank. “I added to my resume’ with roles at Diane’s Farm Market, Eastern Shore Video, and Blue Crab Bay Company when they were still located in Onancock.”
This position at Blue Crab Bay turned out to be very important, as it opened up a dialog with co-worker Betsy Jenkins, who was married to then Dean of Students at ESCC, Dr. Richard “Dick” Jenkins. “Betsy admired my work ethic on the job and encouraged me to follow-up on a part-time position at the college when Financial Aid Coordinator Bryan Smith needed assistance.”
So in the spring of 1992, Carole Read’s journey with ESCC began as she applied and was hired part-time. Due in no small part to the hard work and dedication Betsy Jenkins had observed, Carole was soon hired in a full-time position, during a time when openings and opportunities at the college were few and far between.
“Helping people and customer service were traits I learned early on that proved to be at the heart of my role at ESCC.” Carole says adapting to changing trends in financial aid and constantly evolving technology was also a huge part of the job.
“I still have the Lotus 123 software and manuals that Bryan Smith got me in the mid-1990s.” It serves as a timestamp for the many stages she’s witnessed in the financial aid process. She and Registrar Mary Ann Wells worked diligently to implement the college’s use of “PeopleSoft” database software that would again elevate the way the office served students.
“I continued to grow and adapt with the current trends, and when Bryan left in 2014, I was blessed with great support from assistant Shelly Mize who helped manage the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completions and verification.” Carole had formed a solid and consistent routine of “taking students by the hand, and helping them get across the line.”
This journey of service to Eastern Shore students has included working with five college Presidents, Drs. John Fiege, Dick Jenkins, Cheryl Thompson-Stacey, Linda Thomas-Glover, and currently Jim Shaeffer. With all due respect to the presidents, Carole has always been quick to clarify that “I do what I do not for you, but for the students.”
As Carole stared down retirement at the end of June, she looked back fondly on a career that fulfilled dreams for many. “I’ve always wanted to be fair to everyone and to make sure that the students (and parents) trusted me. It sounds very old school, but without your word, you don’t have anything.” She says she will always feel good about the number of students she has helped.
“I’m leaving with great memories of ESCC.” Carole recalls great fun and chuckles from past end-of-year celebrations, softball games, and cookouts. “I loved all of the SGA events and can still hear Robin Rich-Coates singing karaoke to “Old Time Rock and Roll” in my head and picture former Dean of Students Steve Rulon dressing up like a bee or cow!”
The support and guidance from her colleagues will always resonate those years as well. Carole says “from the sage advice of Dick Jenkins, who reminded me ‘there’s always two sides to every story’ to working in the trenches with Faye Wilson and Mary Ann Wells and being supported by and gaining the trust of my mentor Bryan Smith, my years at ESCC have been fulfilling and memorable.”
“Now it’s time for family, friends and fur-babies!” Anyone who knows Carole knows that along with her passion for helping students reach their dreams is her passion for her pets. Nala, Remi, Maggie, and Luke are no doubt excited that their best friend is getting ready to have some extra time for them.
Comments on Carole’s Retirement
“From stranger to co-worker to colleague to friend to sister—Carole Read is the epitome of all of these. Working collaboratively with her has been an absolute joy.” – Cheryll Mills/Student Services Coordinator
“She has diligently stretched Foundation scholarship funds to serve as many eligible students as possible. I will miss her encyclopedic knowledge of the Shore and our scholarship program, as well as her smile, incredible work ethic and patience.” -Patty Kellam, Executive Director of ESCC Foundation
“One of the gifts I was given as the new president of ESCC was to have Carole not only in the role as coordinator of financial but I was just so darn lucky to have her at ESCC. I’ve learned so much from Carole. For Carole, the student always comes first. I will miss her so much, but I do wish her well.” -ESCC President,James M. Shaeffer PhD
“Keep it in the middle of the road” is a favorite of Carole’s…When chaos ensues and we’re all feeling overwhelmed she says this as a voice of calm in the storm. Carole is always working hard to make sure everything is done right.” Lisa Gibb- ESCC Business Office
“If it was for a student: When there was no way, Carole found a way. When there was no time, Carole made time.” John Floyd-ESCC Faculty
“Her dedication, her concern and her professionalism made it possible for thousands of students to attend ESCC and either join the workforce or continue education at other institutions.” Dr. Richard “Dick” Jenkins- Former President/ESCC
“Students made a direct path to her office door for guidance and would wait as long as needed to have the opportunity to talk with her about their concerns and needs, in great part, because they saw her passion for them and their success.” Dr. Linda Thomas-Glover-Former President/ESCC
“She is the only employee I ever had to fuss at for not wanting to take vacation leave. She was more concerned about the student(s) who wouldn’t be helped when she was away. I can easily say that Carole has been one of the top financial professionals in the VCCS.” – Bryan Smith-Former Financial Aid Coordinator/ESCC
“For me and many others, Ms. Read was a game-changer. I hadn’t really had anyone champion my cause like that before. Not only did she put the pieces together that facilitated my future accomplishments, but she reaffirmed for me that there are good people out here who help because they truly care.” -Anonymous Former ESCC Student