Courtney Seiler: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... I was given every opportunity to learn and grow!

Stasia Lopez's picture

Courtney Seiler graduated from the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)—South Campus in 2020 with her Associate's Degree in General Studies and transferring to California University (Cal U) to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in Communications, with the end goal of working as an Administrator at a Community College.

Courtney Seiler: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... I was given every opportunity to learn and grow!

How did you choose your major? What motivated you to choose that field/profession? 
I actually came to CCAC with every intent of becoming a nurse. My whole life that is what I wanted to do. My mother was a nurse and I wanted to follow in her footsteps. I did all of the work, got into the program, and I realized that it was not for me. I thought I owed medicine another chance, so I tried the radiography program–and again, it just did not feel right. I was immensely involved at South Campus, and I truly loved and enjoyed working with college students, planning events, being in clubs, etc. 

When the choice came between my involvement and being in the program, I could not walk away from my involvement. I kept looking for answers and I was so upset at myself for not being able to become a nurse, but I realized that I was exactly where I was meant to be, and that was working with college students. The sense of pride that I feel and satisfaction that I get when I am able to help a student in any way is incredible. That feeling made my decision easier–and I knew that this field was for me. So, I decided that I want to get into Higher Education, and hopefully one day be an administrator at a Community College. It was crazy for me that the people I was around saw this in me before I did. Two of my mentors who were Administrators had Communications degrees, and that felt like the next logical step to reach my end goal.

What did you enjoy about attending CCAC? Any memorable moment to share? 
Is everything an answer? These past 2 and a half years at South Campus have been the best time of my life. I have never felt more myself than I do now. I was around the most amazing faculty, staff, and administrators. The sense of community that South had is special and I will never forget it. It is so hard to pick just a few moments. 

Some that stick out in my mind are: 
1. Being a work-study in Student Life
Every single opportunity that I got stemmed from this. I loved working behind the scenes on huge events like Orientation, the Medieval Faire, and the CCAC South XCampus 5k). My Student Life Crew were all mentors to me, and they are some of the most amazing people I have ever met (Shout out to Dean, Ben, Kate, and Abby!). They let me almost become a part of their department, and I learned so much from them. 

2. Ambassador Retreat
This trip was amazing, and as an ambassador, we got to spend three days in a beautiful house up in the woods. Spending time outside of school with fellow student leaders and our advisors was incredible, and I felt so much more connected to my peers. I don't think I have ever laughed as much as I did during that trip! Also, we got to visit the Flight 93 Memorial (we actually went right around the anniversary), and that is a moment I will never forget.

At the flight 92 memorial. Courtney Seiler: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... I was given every opportunity to learn and grow!

 3. The Student Life Awards Banquet in 2019
I am not a materialistic person, and awards are not what really drive me. This night meant so much to me because my father, my twin brother, and my aunt were able to come. My family, especially my dad, at first, did not really get all of my involvement and my decision to leave the medical programs. The fact that he was able to see me win awards and to see the impact that I have had at South Campus almost flipped a switch in his brain. He started to be really supportive after that. Also, my amazing supervisor Dean at the time presented me with an award, and it was one of the most special moments of my CCAC career. Receiving something like that from someone who you look up to and consider a mentor meant the world, especially coming from him. 

4. Surprise Parties 
I, with the help of some friends, threw two big and one smaller surprise parties. The first two bigger ones were for my old supervisor Abby before she got a new job. It was so much fun shopping, planning, and setting up these parties (we even got confetti cannons!). I will never forget the look on her face both times that we did it. It meant so much to me that I was able to make this happen. 

Courtney Seiler: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... I was given every opportunity to learn and grow!

How involved were you at CCAC? Did you study abroad? Did you have internships or Co-Ops? Clinicals and/or practicums? Were you a part of any clubs, sports, or extracurriculars?
I was involved in a lot at South Campus. 1. Work-study in Student Life, 2. President of Student Government Association (SGA), 3. Student Ambassador, 4. Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Public Relations Chair, 5. Honors Program Student, 6. Campus Activities Board, 7. Campus Enhancement Committee, 8. Stand for the Silent Secretary, 9. Women on a Mission, 10. CCAC South XCampus 5k Planning Committee, 11. Out of the Darkness Walk Planning Committee, 12. STEM Club, 13. Book Club, 14. Newsletter Committee (Before it got canceled), 15. Diversity Committee, 16. Campus Cupboard and Closet Volunteer, 17. Orientation Leader and Panelist, 18. Society for Social Advocacy, 19. Rising Leaders Program ..... There is probably more, but this is what I can think of right now. I look at this and I still can't believe that I did all of this. 

Did any of these experiences lead you into realizing your passions for work and career? If so, how? 
Being involved at South Campus and having great mentors literally helped me figure out exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I loved working with students and being involved so much that I want to make a career out of it. I was so lucky to have people who pushed and believed in me every step of the way. They helped me see my worth and my potential, and all I want to do with my life is return the favor and do the same thing for a student. They saw me as me, they did not try and change me at all. They gave me every single opportunity to better myself and to experience as much as I possibly could. I always wanted to work in Student Life and to learn as much as I could; I could not get enough. I felt like a human sponge. There were times where I had to force myself to go home. That was something that made me realize how much I loved what I did. 

Courtney Seiler: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... I was given every opportunity to learn and grow!

What skills did you gain that you could take into a workplace? 
One of the biggest skills that I learned, especially from my supervisor, is how to find the good in a situation and to see the best in someone. It is so easy to jump to conclusions and act on feelings. He taught me how to take a step back, look at things from someone else's perspective, and to make rational choices. Also, I think leadership is a huge skill that I have learned. It is hard for me to consider myself a leader, but I do now. Being the SGA President was a huge leadership role, and I learned so much in the two semesters that I did it. I learned patience, how to listen, collaboration, commitment, and being enthusiastic about what I was doing. I can go on and on. 

Finally, dedication was something I learned a lot about. I put everything that I could into South Campus. I gave it my all, and that campus came first in my life for a while. I learned how to engross yourself into something, how to have a great work ethic, and how to be humble at the same time. With all of the things that I did, I received many opportunities, acknowledgements, and praises. I always felt almost not worthy of everything that I was getting, but I was so incredibly humbled and grateful for everything. All of these skills will serve me well as I continue on with my educational journey. 

What are you hoping to do next? What would you like to do professionally? 
I am hoping to get my Bachelor's Degree from Cal U and to get my Master's, as well. I am not sure if I am planning on working right after my Bachelor's, or if I am going to try and get both of those degrees done one right after another. 

My end goal is to be an Administrator at a Community College (I would LOVE to come back to CCAC, but we will see what the future holds). I honestly fell in love with Community College–there is something about seeing people from all over the world, from all different backgrounds and ages trying to better themselves, that blows me away. I am biased towards Student Life, and I would love to do things that help engage students outside of the classroom. I am hoping to get more experience at CAL U and we will see where life leads me. 

How do you manage stress (most especially during these uncertain times)? 
The best thing for me during this time has been working (whether on classes or on Student Government or PTK projects). South Campus has been my salvation for years, and any time I was able to connect with anyone from there (especially seeing administrators and students) helped me relax. Seeing them gave me the motivation and drive that I needed. Also, Netflix has been a great way to keep my mind off of things. Finally, I think just trying to remain positive and being grateful for the time I spend at South and the people in my life has helped me a bunch as well. 

What do you want prospective college students to know—what advice do you have for them? 
I would want them to first step out of their comfort zone. There were so many times where I was scared to do something, but luckily I had great support and they helped me go outside of my comfort zone. The more I did it, the easier it got. 

Second, I would want them to take any and every opportunity that is given to them. I had a motto for myself to not let any opportunities slip away and to take all of them. 

Third and simply, GET INVOLVED! Being involved lead me to finding my passion in life and lead me to a scholarship for me to go after that passion. Also, the people I met from being involved have changed my life in all of the best ways possible. 

Courtney Seiler: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... I was given every opportunity to learn and grow!

Who inspires you and why? Do you have any mentors or people of influence in your life? 
I think Dean Jolin is probably tired of me always talking about how incredible he is. I will always look for any and every opportunity to shout him out. Dean gave me the initial opportunity in Student Life, and has been by my side ever since. I don't even think mentor is a strong enough word to describe him. He just has a way about him that brings out the best in everyone, including myself. He makes me want to work as hard as I possibly could and to do as much as I possibly could. He is also probably the nicest person that I have ever met, and I see him putting everyone before himself. I look at him as an epitome of how I want to be as an administrator–and even as a person. Every step of the way, through the best and worst times, he was there for me. When I needed him, he was always there to listen to me and give me the motivation that I needed. He let me get every skill and opportunity that I could out of Student Life. He was always thinking of things and putting me in situations where I could learn and grow (even if I did fight him on a few things that I did not think I could do). Being his work study was one of the best parts of my college experience. Not only that, but he helped me tremendously with Student Government things, and even things going on with me personally. He treats people with such kindness (the man literally gave a student the shirt off his back) that I can only hope to emulate. 

Also, I have to mention Ben Williams and Abby Hindman. Ben is just such a chill person, and he again has an ability to see and bring out the best in people. With him, I felt like I could relax at times and I could take a breather and that I did not have to be on 150%. He always has been one of my biggest supporters, and I would not have won the All-PA Scholarship without him forcing me to join PTK and making sure that I completed the application. Ben just gets and understands students, and I have seen so many people connect with him. Finally, Abby actually saw how much I loved working with students, and said before I even realized that I should do this as a career (I disagreed at the time, but she was totally right.) Working with her was the first time where I felt so connected to the school and could see the impact that I had. She pushed the heck out of me and really got me out of my comfort zone. She helped me realize how amazing Student Life is. I absolutely adore her, and it was hard when she left. Luckily, over a year later, we are still in contact, and she is still here for me. All three of those individuals are mentors to me and have inspired me in countless ways. 

Anything else you’d like for us to know? 
CCAC and South Campus will always have a special place in my heart. I will never forget the people I met, the opportunities I had, and the memories I made. I am determined to make everyone proud and to turn my dreams into a reality. The time I spent here has been the best time of my life and I am just go grateful that I chose CCAC and South Campus. I could never thank everyone enough! 

Courtney Seiler: #CommunityCollegeBecause ... I was given every opportunity to learn and grow!


Read more stories, and why community college is so important, on #CommunityCollegeBecause:




Stasia Lopez is the Global Education Editor for Wandering Educators and is also a Director of Career Services at the Community College of Allegheny County. She graduated with her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs from Western Michigan University in 2013 and earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Stasia is passionate about international education, travel, college to career topics and loves working on a college campus. She’s lived in four different U.S. states (Florida, Michigan, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania) and also studied and lived abroad in Rome, Italy. Stasia lives in the Pittsburgh area with her husband, Fernando, precious daughter, Maya, and playful kitty-cat Zorro.

All photos courtesy and copyright Courtney Seiler