Excerpt from Chapter 3 of "FRESH from the Kitchen"
“Really great people make you feel that you, too can become great.” – Mark Twain
I worked at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio for nine years. I left the school in July of 2007 to pursue a career as a professional speaker, and to move closer to my future wife, Kelly, in Arizona. Many of my coworkers and students told me that they would miss me.
I informed the college of my decision to leave that May. Every week, the President of the Lakeland would send out a letter (email) to the employees. The email would cover a variety of subjects. That May, he asked college employees to contribute to his weekly email. When word of my departure spread, he asked me to write something. Here’s what I wrote. This is one of the light bulb moments that made me write my book, "FRESH from the Kitchen."
I received a phone call last week from the President’s Office “asking” me if I would write the next edition of “Morris’ Musings.” My options were “yes” or “yes.” I decided on option number two. Once I committed myself to be this week’s “Special Guest Writer,” I needed something to write about.
Should I write something serious? Should I be funny? Should I keep it short? Hmmmm? Then it hit me: I’m going to do what I do best, I’m going to be me! First step, name my musing. “Fresh from the Kitchen.” Next step, start typing.
“Fresh from the Kitchen” Edition #1
Friday, July 20, 2007 will be my last day of employment at Lakeland Community College. My experiences at Lakeland have been amazing. I often tell people that I might have to write a book or a sitcom about some of the experiences. We often refer to the people who work here as “The Lakeland Family.” I would like to thank that family for taking me in. I especially want to thank Rich Novotny for taking the chance to hire and mentor an inexperienced kid nine years ago.
That leads me to my musing. I would like to thank Morris for inviting me to write to all of you. I also want to thank Morris in advance for the Clocktower Award presented to me for all my hard work on this musing (hint, hint). I’ve been reading Morris’ Musings since he started writing them. At the end of every musing, he thanks everyone for Impacting Lives through Learning. I often think to myself, what does that mean? “Impacting Lives through Learning” is Lakeland’s slogan. It’s Lakeland's core purpose. Do we think about this core purpose every time we come to Lakeland?
In December of 1991, I moved to Mentor, Ohio from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I had the grades, several college acceptance letters, but not enough money to go to the “REAL” colleges.
My mom suggested I enroll at Lakeland Community College. I was a little hesitant at first. I didn’t want to go to a “community college”!
I will admit, I was very young and very misinformed about community colleges. In 1992, I started taking classes at Lakeland. I soon discovered how much of an impact Lakeland would have on my life.
Impact is defined as a significant or strong influence. It is also defined as the effect something has on something else. This influence or effect can be positive or negative. In my case, the impact was very positive. As a student, Lakeland offered affordable classes taught by top-notch instructors. Lakeland also offered a variety of co-curricular opportunities to help me grow personally outside the classroom. That combination turned a shy kid into an outgoing young adult with a two-year Associates Degree in 1995.
I eventually transferred to the University of Akron, then went on to Myers University. Then, I got my first job in the real world. At school or at work, I was often asked, “Where did you learn that?” I always replied, “Lakeland Community College.” I started to recognize how much of an impact Lakeland had on my life. It was more personal than the real schools.
I could talk to someone face to face when I needed help or assistance. I learned skills for the classroom, and skills for life, from the people at Lakeland.
I eventually came back to Lakeland in 1998 to work in the Student Activities Office. What a great opportunity and experience! I wanted to share the positive experiences that I had as a Lakeland student with current students.
Many students and their parents tell me about the positive impact Lakeland and I had on their lives. Many of those students don’t realize the impact they have on my life and our lives. They help us as we continue to learn and grow.
Fifteen years after I first stepped foot on the Lakeland campus, I am preparing to leave again. I’m preparing to take on the new challenge of living in a new state, developing new relationships and pursuing new career opportunities. I start to think what got me to this point and once again I know its Lakeland. There is a statement: “you never know what you have until it’s gone.” Soon Lakeland will be a memory, but I’ll always remember my time here.
Being in a learning environment is motivating. Everyone has a dream. Everyone wants to take on the world in some way. Lakeland is a stepping-stone for students to achieve their dreams. The faculty and staff at Lakeland have a strong influence on students achieving their dreams. We are the “something” affecting “something” else.
We are all here because of the students. Without the students, we wouldn’t have our jobs. Every time a student or prospective student comes in contact with a member of the Lakeland Family, we are impacting their lives. Learning doesn’t only happen in the classroom, it happens everywhere on campus. We need to think about how we can impact the lives of the students and our Lakeland Family members in a positive way
Do you know who’s who on campus? Do you know the responsibilities of the different departments? If you see trash around campus, do you pick it up? Do you answer your phone or let it go into voicemail? Do you complain about everything or make suggestions for improvement? Do you respond quickly to your emails? Do you help mentor new college employees? Do you attend campus events or programs? Do you take advantage of the classes offered? Do you share your Lakeland stories with students and co-workers? The list goes on and on. All are examples of experiences that impact people (students and employees) on campus. We have the choice to make it a positive or negative experience. That choice impacts the lives of many people: prospective students, current students, and employees.
Lakeland has used the slogans “Students First,” “Opportunity Starts Here,” and currently “Impacting Lives through Learning.” These words focus on the number one thing at Lakeland: the students. Lakeland and its employees have had a positive impact on thousands of students/people. I am one of them. In turn, I have positively impacted the lives of others.
It’s easy to focus on the negative, but we should take the time to focus on the positive impact we can make. The next time you read Morris’s Musing and you see the term “Impacting Lives through Learning,” think about that new student stepping on campus for the first time or that student crossing the stage at graduation. Think about what you do here at Lakeland. Ask yourself: “Does my attitude or work make a negative impact on that life or a positive impact?” I hope all of you go for option number two! Thank you, Lakeland, Frank Kitchen
A few days later, I received this email and advice from
Dr. Morris W. Beverage, Jr, President of Lakeland Community College:
It looks like you may be onto something here. You could start by simply doing a personal journal. Then, after a few years, you could publish your writings and retire a wealthy and young man. Then, you could come back here and be President. Just something to think about. Thanks again, Frank. I would say your Kitchen Musing was very well-received.