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This article appeared in a January 2016 issue of the student newsletter.
By Martizabel Monge, Student Staff Writer,
Dr. Christa Slejko has made it evident that it is possible to work, study and have a family at the same time. The current North Lake College (NLC) president recently graduated with an Ed.D, also known as a doctorate in education.
“I have to say that the college community has been so supportive of the fact that I took this job while trying to complete the credentials that were appropriate for the job at the same time,” said Slejko. “That’s not typical, generally people that have the position have already done that. I had kind of a unique situation.”
The enthusiastic president has made her life as a student public to show NLC Blazers that they aren’t alone on the journey of working toward higher education. She knows the struggles some of them face and can relate to many of them.
“I was learning what it was like to be a student who works and has a family,” she said. “And I was like, ‘Oh, this is the same stuff our students are dealing with.’ So maybe it would be helpful for them to know that ‘Hey, I know that it’s tough and I feel just like you do sometimes.’ So I just got used to always talking about it. It was kind of a neat opportunity to share the journey,” she added.
Anette Rosales, an NLC student who works in the campus’ Admissions Office, likes that Slejko put her life as a student in the spotlight. “A lot of students here at North Lake have children and are returning to school, so it’s very good to see the person who leads [the college] be in the same position.”
When Slejko was elected as president of the school in 2014, her son was starting middle school and she was returning to school. She was faced with many challenges, but she didn’t let that stop her from being involved in her son’s life.
“We did our homework together and that’s when I would say, ‘OK, what homework do you have? I have a test this weekend, do you have something?’ I was determined to be involved and go to his games, but I had to pick one thing because I couldn’t sign up for everything that all the other moms and dads could,” said Slejko.
The leading lady also made it a priority to attend NLC sporting and student organization events. “She tries to be involved with the students as much as she possibly can,” said Debbie Eberle, senior administrative assistant to Slejko.
With a packed schedule and a busy life, it was easy for Slejko to feel overwhelmed, especially when she had a school to run, a family to raise and a degree to obtain.
“When all the deadlines started to hit and other stuff in my life would hit, I would think, ‘I can’t do this, I can’t do this,’ but then I would make it to the end of the semester I was like, ‘I can do this. I can do this.’
Well, that happened to me for two semesters,” said Slejko. “By the third semester I figured out that I’m always going to feel like I can’t make it. So I would anticipate and tell myself, ‘When you hit October or when you hit March, you’re going to be slaying and you’re going to think that you can’t do this. But you’ve already proven to yourself that you can.’”
Slejko credits her success to prioritizing what is important, anticipating when deadlines are coming up and breaking tasks down.
“I don’t know how she did it,” said Eberle. “She was very adamant about taking care of [her studies] on her own and still kept the school running smoothly with her energy and positivity. It’s incredible.”