“My favorite groups of students are the re-entry students. I see them come up and I give them their paperwork. They are so nervous and I go ‘You’re going to be OK. You’ve made a good step in coming to college,’” said Admissions and Records Director Robin Armour who retired just before Spring Break
Before heading to Los Medanos College, Armour spent 14 years as an evaluator at Lake Tahoe Community College. Seeing students come through her office with their plans and degrees at Lake Tahoe encouraged Armour to go back to school at age 40 and get her associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s degrees over the span of 10 years.
That preparation eventually led her to LMC in 2008 to begin her work in the Admissions and Records Department.
Armour dedicated 10 years at LMC to make sure every student who came up to the Admissions counter window walked away with a greater understanding of what their next steps were to succeed at LMC.
“I’m not teaching but I’m working in the office. I started right up there at the counter, helping the students,” said Armour pointing to the workers at the counter.
Armour said that once she got into education, she saw the lives she was changing and how being in college, especially community college, can be instrumental to student’s growth.
And for many, the Admissions office is the first step in that life-changing process.
She explained that one of the greatest challenges in her years as director of Admissions and Records is resolving stressful situations students go through while stopping by the window.
Armour’s previous experiences working for a phone company and as a police dispatcher, both requiring conflict resolution and exemplary customer skills, prepared her for the experiences she had with frustrated students coming by Admissions and Records.
There may have been times walking past Admissions when people saw Armour calmly speaking with a LMC student at the smaller window off to the left of the larger counters or even assisting one of the workers at the front to solve an issue. That is what she said challenged her and what she most enjoyed — helping others.
“If a student comes in here really upset, we don’t know what happened just before they came to our counter,” said Armour. “So there’s always a story, there’s always a story to tell.” The goal, she said, is to “turn that contact around to make it a happy one. I may not be able to give them what they’re asking for, but as long as they understand why,” it’s a win.
Her passion for helping students in this process also led to some big changes for the college about how to make the admissions and registration process easier for current and incoming students.
One significant improvement Armour made during her time at LMC, was partnering up with the state and the district information technology department to bring CCCApply to community colleges across California in 2012.
LMC was the first college in the state to bring the online application to students. For two weeks Armour and district IT spent time troubleshooting the applications and watching them come through until CCCApply was ready to spread to other colleges in the state.
“Our district is well known throughout the entire state for being very technology minded and having a great IT department,” said Armour. “I think we do things a lot more efficiently because we’ve embraced the technology to help us process everything.”
LMC President Bob Kratochvil said he is grateful for Armour’s time as director of Admissions and Records and thankful for the knowledge and support she brought to the college.
“Robin is well-respected at LMC and with community college colleagues throughout the state,” Kratochvil said. “She consistently worked hard and always on behalf of our students. I thank her for her many contributions to the college, and for her tremendous support. She will be missed greatly.”
Armour explained that friends who retired before she did told her she would know when it would be the right time for her to leave. She said she knew this was her time to dial back and ultimately spend more time with her loved ones.
Although her decision to retire was a year in the making, Armour will still miss the extended family she has worked with throughout her time at LMC, including the students.
“Like I said, when I came here I was looking for a home. I was looking for someplace to set my roots down and stay, and LMC became my home. It’s like my family. I’m gonna miss it.”