by PAMELA GANDY/Staff Writer
The newly-formed South Plains College Testing and Advising Center will continue to help students map out their education and prepare for success under the influence of Lola Hernandez, the new director of testing and advising and quality enhancement plan coordinator.
Hernandez is a West Texas native. She grew up close to SPC in Sundown, Texas. She still lives in Sundown, where she raised her five children. She described growing up and living in a small town as being a part of a larger group.
“Everyone knows everyone,” Hernandez explains. “Everyone’s kids know everyone’s kids, and it just becomes a family.”
Hernandez said that the close connections between people at SPC very much resemble the atmosphere of her hometown and was likely the reason that she was attracted to SPC.
Hernandez is also very familiar with South Plains College’s environment, because she is an SPC graduate.
“As a student, it was always a family,” said Hernandez. “I could walk down the hall and everybody knew everyone.”
Hernandez started her education at South Plains College as an office technology major in 2002. In 2004, she started a job as an admissions clerk in the Admissions and Records Office. As an admissions clerk, she became colleagues with the woman who had previously been her work-study supervisor. Her former supervisor introduced her to the office and taught her the ropes of being an admissions clerk. Her position there is where Hernandez found her true passion for business, and helping students. This helped her to decide that she wanted to further her education.
From SPC, she went on to attend Wayland Baptist University, where she earned a master’s degree in business administration, as well as a master’s degree in business management.
Hernandez has held many positions at South Plains College in the past several years, including secretary to the registrar, activities coordinator for the Title V cooperative grant, scholarship coordinator, administrative assistant to the vice president of student affairs, and Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) coordinator before becoming the director of the advising and testing center and QEP coordinator in April 2015. She said that the close connections and family aspect of SPC is why she has stayed. Outside of her current position, she donates her spare time to assist Chris Riley, director of Upward Bound, in helping high school seniors to prepare for college.
When discussing her goals as the director of the Testing and Advising Center, Hernandez said that her primary goal was, “Just to keep growing in the direction of helping students figure out what their goals are.”
“We’ve always been student centered,” Hernandez continues, “but it was focused on guidance and counseling; it was a different model. Now we are focused with advising, academic advising and identifying your specific goals as a student and how we can help you get there.”
Although the Testing and Advising Center no longer houses personal counselors, Hernandez mentioned that the close connection with the students is still there.
Hernandez says that she is very excited to be in her new position. She mentioned that her favorite thing about working with students was “Seeing the light.”
“When working with students, and they’re kind of lost, or they just come and say that they want to get their basics, and then you say something about a certain discipline, or you start talking about a certain class or instructor, and you see that light come on,” she added. “I think of football season. When you see the lights come on in the stadium, and all of a sudden it’s really, really bright. That’s what happens when students come in and you’re working with them. You bring up the sciences, or you mention a history class that they enjoy, suddenly, that light comes on. You act on it, and then you know how to direct them after that.”
Hernandez mentioned throughout her interview that personal connection with staff and students was very important to her, and something that she tries to place a focus on in the Testing and Advising Center.
“SPC is my home,” says Hernandez.