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Community bonds strengthens Amenta’s ECC ties

Paula-Amenta

Paula Amenta, ECC's managing director of community engagement and legislative affairs, proves the adage that you can always go home again. However, when you look at her time at ECC, she never really left.

Her 15-plus year career began in 1999 in the Marketing and Communications Office before briefly leaving in 2004 to work at Waubonsee Community College. She returned to ECC in 2007 and led the Marketing and Communications Office before later moving into her current role. Even when she worked at Waubonsee, she was an ECC adjunct instructor.

Before working at ECC, Amenta enrolled here as an adult student. Like many adults considering to enroll in college, it took some time before she walked in the door.

“When we moved to the area in the mid-80's, I knew ECC was my best option for realizing my dream of higher education,” she said. “It wasn't until the early 90's when my children were in school that I could begin to realize that dream.”

Once that happened, the proud ECC alumna never looked back.

“When I started taking classes, I was around 30 years old,” Amenta said. “At first, I was completely intimidated, but over time I acclimated and did well. My kids and I did our homework together in the evenings; it was a great experience.”

As passionate as Amenta is about ECC, there's another cause dear to her heart: Zambia. Since 2009, she has spent her time volunteering at Camp Life, a summer camp dedicated to helping Zambia's growing orphan population. Her first visit was to honor a friend who was committed to helping Zambian orphans, but it has now turned into her mission.

We caught up with Amenta and asked her some questions about herself and her job at ECC. Here are her answers.

In your words, what do you do at ECC? 

I help connect strategic community partners to ECC; I act as liaison with all elected officials in ECC's district; and I manage the myriad opportunities for ECC to participate in and sponsor community events and activities.

What is your greatest accomplishment since you've been here?

In 2009, the college passed a referendum, celebrated its 60th anniversary, and went through the brand identity process. I was grateful to be part of the teams that executed those projects.

What would you do if you were ECC president for a day?

The college closes when the weather is awful; how about closing when the weather is awesome? If I were president, I would declare the first 80 degree day of the year a holiday for all.

If there was a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?

Julia Roberts. Years ago the SBDC director was a dear man named Vic Lattan. He always called me Julia because he thought I looked like her.

What's on your “bucket list?”

In the long term, I want to see the kids, my husband, and I sponsor in Zambia graduate from high school (only 5 percent do), find their career path, and realize their dream of a life outside of poverty. One of our sponsored children, Beatrice, was able to come to the U.S. last July and she started classes at ECC last August!

What's one fact we should know about you?

I love being Grammy to Josephine and Joshua.

What's something about your job that others should know?

When I ask people how many elected officials are in ECC's district, most guess around 10 to 20. The answer is closer to 600. Illinois has more units of local government than any other state in the union.

What was your favorite class in school?

(ECC Professor Emeritus) Gary Christenson's journalism class.

What was your first job out of school?

I graduated a semester early from high school, so I got my first full-time job at a recruitment firm for the media industry at age 17. In the first six months, I documented all of the operational procedures. Shortly after that, the boss brought the manual home to his wife. She decided she could handle the procedures, and I was out of a job.

Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “

The quote in my email signature says it well: "Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it."   - Marian Wright Edelman

I believe education is transformative, and I am grateful to be a part of ECC for that reason.

 

 

 

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