College employee group brings Christmas cheer to student
PASADENA, Texas – A group of San Jacinto College (SJC) employees brightened the Christmas holidays for a student dealing with trying circumstances by presenting her with a cash gift of $900 and a collection of gifts, such as school supplies, cookware, small appliances, towels, and clothing items.
Jennifer Dowling, a sophomore at SJC Central, warmly expressed her gratitude as she received the money and gifts presented by members of the Association of Educational Office Personnel (AEOP), an employee organization at SJC that includes administrative assistants and educational support staff. Dowling is praised by teachers and friends at SJC for her determination, work ethic, and for maintaining a positive demeanor through difficult times. Dowling is working her way through college, and is also the sole provider for herself and for her 14-year-old sister, Mary.
“I cannot think of a more deserving person to receive the money and items that were collected by our members,” commented Angela Klaus, president of the College’s AEOP chapter. “I wanted this year’s Community Service Outreach to go beyond a charitable donation. Despite the hardships Jennifer has had to overcome, she is truly a beacon of light. I wish I could say that we have touched her life, but the truth is Jennifer has touched the lives of everyone who has had the privilege of knowing her.”
Dowling and her sister Mary, who live in Pasadena, were raised in a single-parent home, and their mother passed away in 2007. Dowling, 24 at the time, faced the grim reality that she and she alone would have to earn a living and provide care for herself and her 9-year-old sister. After a period of struggling to make ends meet, she realized that attending college could lead to a more lucrative career path. A visit to San Jacinto College turned into a defining moment for her. “I found a place where I could not only attend college, but it also turned out that I found a job at the College,” Dowling commented. “The people at the College were so helpful. They sort of took me under their wing.”
Administrative personnel helped Dowling to apply for financial aid. She also qualified for a work-study program and began working as a student administrative assistant. “Through financial aid and the work study program, all my college expenses are paid for, which really helps,” she said. “And it’s such a great help to be able to attend college and work at the same location.”
Dowling also found new direction in a career field she seems to have a knack for and really enjoys. She is majoring in audio engineering, and will earn an associate degree at the Central Campus in spring 2012, and then transfer to the University of Houston to earn a bachelor’s degree in audio engineering, en route to ultimately working as an audio engineering technician.
Meanwhile, she does her best to raise a teenage sister. “I think of Mary more as a daughter than as a sister, and I only want what is best for her,” Dowling said. Mary attends Fairmont Junior High School in Pasadena, and is grateful that her sister is helping her through the typical issues of adolescence. “I’m just glad that Jen is there for me, and I don’t know what I would do without her,” Mary commented. “A good friend recently moved away from the area, and I was really sad about it and I was glad to have my sister to talk to and to help me deal with it.”
Administrative assistant Michelle Guidry worked with Dowling at SJC and is impressed by the student’s maturity. “She’s such a positive young woman despite everything she’s been through,” she said. “Jennifer is also humble and never asks for charity of any kind. She has been through enormous obstacles, and she deals with situations better than most adults I know.”
Dowling shrugs off the accolades. “Some say they are amazed at what I am doing,” she remarked. “But I am so busy that I really don’t have time to think too much about it. I am just doing what I have to do.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150, visit www.sanjac.edu, or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SanJacintoCollege.
PHOTO CUTLINE: San Jacinto College (SJC) student Jennifer Dowling, left, and her younger sister Mary will enjoy a brighter Christmas thanks to gifts provided by a SJC employee organization. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing department.