Editor’s Note: April is Community College Month. To celebrate, the Clinton Herald throughout April will publish guest columns from Clinton Community College’s faculty, staff members and students.

When I graduated from Clinton High School, I was ready to hit the ground running in Clinton Community College’s nursing program. I was succeeding in anatomy and physiology classes, and I was fascinated by medicine.

But at the end of the day, it didn’t have my heart. Not like writing did. So after a year of nursing classes, I decided to follow my heart to writing. Journalism, specifically.

I joined the CCC newspaper, The Gallery, run by instructor Beth Hafner, and went from staff writer to editor-in-chief. I graduated in 2005, then attended St. Ambrose University for my bachelor’s and the University of Iowa for my master’s, both in journalism. In that time, I served as a local newspaper reporter in the Quad-Cities and Muscatine, and even taught news writing at Scott Community College.

Because I never want life to get stale, I decided a new challenge was on the horizon, and found my way into web writing.

After several roles in web development, from copywriter to product strategist, today I’m a content strategist for Lullabot, a remote-based Drupal web developer and agency. As a content strategist, I help my clients make sense of their web “stuff” – organizing pages, navigation, and content that connects with real people. My 50-plus coworkers are around the world. Our clients range from NBC and The GRAMMYs to IBM and New York University School of Medicine.

It’s been a wild ride, and community college taught me everything along the way.

Community college taught me the value of diversity: Meeting and collaborating with people from all different experiences and walks of life is such a benefit of community college. My coworkers remind me a lot of my classmates from CCC – all curious, friendly, and ready to learn. These qualities bring with them incredible insights into your own life.

Community college taught me to explore: I went from nursing to journalism. But my journey to find where I belonged, my curiosity and knack for asking questions leant me skills I used today, interviewing stakeholders and conducting user research. Fact-finding missions help me learn how to make a user’s online experience better.

Community college taught me to be flexible: Smaller classes in community college mean more group work, and in web development, collaboration is key. And juggling classes with work, home, and family life is a necessity. But being flexible, being open with your classmates and instructors, are essential in my work today, especially with remote colleagues around the world.

Community college taught me to focus: Taking classes, holding down a job, making time for your family – all of those things take focus. In a remote-only job, my colleagues and I meet in Zoom and Slack. I sometimes have to juggle more than one project at a time. All these things take focus, attention, and care.

For any readers out there considering community college or who are in the midst of your community college career: Keep going. Ask the questions. Take the classes. Explore all the things. It’ll take you amazing places. It’s one chapter of many you won’t regret writing.

Erin Schroeder lives in Cedar Rapids. She graduated from CCC in 2005.

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