• Go Beavers!!!

Family tradition led Carol Lewis to Pratt Community College

15 August 2018

Carol Lewis was no stranger to Pratt Community College when she stepped into her first class in fall of 1976. Her sister, Nora Doubek, graduated in 1973. Her brother, Bob Doubek, attended during the 1972-1973 school year on a basketball scholarship. It was the actions of their mother, however that began the family tradition back when the college opened its doors 80 years ago in 1938.

Ellen Hamar Doubek graduated from Pratt High School in the spring of 1938. At the time, most of her peers continued their education at in-state universities, such as Emporia State, Kansas State, and the University of Kansas.

“That would been a substantial hardship for my grandparents to be able to send her to someplace like that,” said Lewis. “She was pretty lucky. It worked out that Pratt opened a community college the same year she graduated high school. I don’t know if my mom’s family could have afforded to send her to a university back in 1938.”

Hamar attended what was known as Pratt Junior College at the time and became a part of the first graduating class in 1940. She focused on business classes, which led her to obtain a long lasting career in her hometown. During her time at the college, she became friends with Clarence Beck, who went on to become a very successful engineer and a significant donor to PCC.

“My mom was a friend and classmate of Clarence,” said Lewis. “He went on and became very successful in science and ended up making a nice benefactor of the college. Everyone at the college thought he was just so smart and expected him to do great things, in which he did.”

Lewis also recalls her mother telling her the story of how PCC obtained their mascot.

“In Pratt, we have the Pratt Greenback frogs at the high school and the Beaver at the college. It seems kind of bizarre. Instead of a ferocious animal, we have frogs and beavers,” said Lewis. “My mom’s class ended up helping name the Beavers. They chose the Beavers because of their association with the Wildlife and Parks being headquartered right there in Pratt and they wanted something that connected to that.”

Thirty-eight years after her mother graduated, Lewis fulfilled her part of the family tradition and became a graduate of Pratt Community College as well.

“I was already married with a son by the time I ended up going to college,” said Lewis. “I married very young. Since I was a non-traditional student, I had a different college experience. I was a serious student. I was focused on bettering myself while I was in school.”

Lewis decided to study accounting while working at a Salina bank with a woman who was finishing up her accounting degree. Lewis considered the woman her mentor.

“She was an older person who went back to finish school. She was a controller at the bank at the time,” said Lewis. “I admired her and adopted her as my mentor. I also had great influence from my instructors in college, particularly Jim Stratford, who inspired me to continue on with my education.”

While Lewis was attending PCC, Stratford’s business and accounting classes were among her favorite.

“Jim Stratford had a demeanor and a way of instructing that made any class I took from him seem easy,” said Lewis. “Most students I went to school with thought that way. He had a very congenial way of presenting the material that made his classes seem like the easiest subject matter ever. It was widely known that if you were going to take a class from Jim, it was going to be a good experience and it truly was.”

After graduating from PCC in 1978, Lewis went on to finish her degree at WSU and become a CPA, something she never thought she would do before stepping into PCC years prior.

“One of the most interesting things for me was that I didn’t really go to Pratt Community College thinking that I was going to finish college,” said Lewis. “I truly went there thinking that it would provide me with a skillset for an accounting job in town. Because of my great experience as a student at PCC, I immediately went on to Wichita State and ended up with a really nice career.”

Lewis graduated from Wichita State University in 1983 with her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration. After graduating from WSU, she came back to her hometown to work at the local accounting company, Kennedy and Coe, now known as KCoe Isom. While she was there, she was the auditor for the college and served a year as president of the PCC Foundation in 1997-1998. She was proud to be the president of the foundation that benefitted her by providing her a scholarship during her second year as a student.

“I was highly involved with the auction and I really enjoyed that,” said Lewis. “We had raised the most money up until that point that had ever been raised from the college auction. We had a fantastic committee that worked so hard to expand the auction and take it to the next level.”

Lewis left Kennedy and Coe in 2001 to move to Colorado. She worked with companies such as CliftonLarsonAllen and BKD, where she was a partner for many years. Currently she is a CPA with Western Private Client Group and resides in a suburb of Denver, all of which she believes would not have been possible without her time spent at PCC.

“I could hardly ask for a more rewarding career and PCC is what started be off on the right foot,” said Lewis. “I’m glad PCC became a family tradition which led me onto my career path.”

September 6, 1938, Pratt Junior College opened its doors as the 14th junior college created in Kansas. Pratt “Juco” welcomed 150 new students to its original campus located on 401 S Hamilton St. Eighty years later, Pratt Community College, is proud to have helped build the futures of thousands of students on-campus, online, at our Winfield and Wichita learning centers and through high school concurrent enrollment.

The mission of Pratt Community College is maximum student learning, individual and workforce development, high quality instruction and service, and community enrichment. PCC is proud to be a part of the community in Pratt, Kansas. With more than 80 years of history, PCC remains humbled to serve our community and students who come to build a foundation for their lives.

This year we celebrate this grand anniversary and remember those who’ve walked through these halls. Each month during 2018 PCC is proud to feature stories and memories from alumnae, community members and faculty who have helped see our institution and mission grow. If you would like to share an experience or memory or be considered for one of our monthly features contact Jessica Sanko, 620-450-2192, jessicas@prattcc.edu.


Ellen Hamar Doubek
Ellen Hamar Doubek