With a new academic year comes newly elected employee association presidents at Austin Community College District (ACC). We talk to the incoming 2020-21 presidents to learn more about them professionally and personally.
Meet the 2020-21 ACC Association of Professional-Technical Employees (APTE) President Dr. Lauren C. Sebel. She started working at ACC in July 2007 as the Office for Students with Disabilities Specialist (OSD) at the Riverside Campus and she is currently the director of Student Accessibility Services (SAS).
What additional role(s) have you held at the college?
I was lucky enough to help open two campuses. Round Rock Campus in 2010 and Highland in 2014. I was the Coordinator II for OSD at both campuses. I've been the SAS director since 2016.
What inspired you to run for president?
I was impressed with the work that APTE has done over the years to better the working environment for our members, which in turn helps students. I wanted to do something to make a difference and have the opportunity to work with administration, faculty, and staff on a deeper level.
Do you have any goals for this year in your role as president?
My goals for this year include:
What do you "geek out" about?
I'm really motivated by music. I usually have it on in the background while working. I'm a huge U2 fan. I've seen them more than 30 times. I geek out over U2!
What's the biggest lesson you've learned professionally?
That we shouldn't work in silos. The human resources here at the college are invaluable. Connecting and networking with faculty and staff has given me so much and I try to "get" something out of every interaction I have. Maybe it's a new way of doing something, or someone has made a suggestion about something that I never thought of.
What do you believe it takes to help students succeed?
Empathy. Putting ourselves in our students' shoes in order to understand their experience can go a long way in helping them succeed. Making sure that they have access to everything they need, especially now. "Warm" hand-offs to other college personnel instead of just referring students to a particular office or individual. Showing an interest in them as individuals. Really listening to them. It's easy for us to provide our services and/or teach in a rote way, but taking into account that each student has different needs, ways of learning, and may need something extra from us is key. Taking that extra time or making an extra effort can push students closer to their goals here at ACC.
Any final thoughts you'd like to share?
I am so proud of ACC for what we've been able to accomplish during the pandemic. Our students have risen to the challenges with the help of faculty and staff. I am looking forward to seeing what APTE can do over the next year to better the work lives for our employees and the school lives of our students!