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Build Our Future: Michele Hamm

20 May 2019

When Michele Hamm was a student at Pratt Community College, she never imagined she would one day serve as a Board of Trustee member – in fact, she didn’t even know there were boards helping to ensure that she, along with the rest of the students, received a quality education. It was a position she took for granted and did not learn more about until she entered the education field herself. Her passion for education and a phone call from a board member at the time led her to the PCC Board of Trustees ten years ago, where she has been a voice for students ever since.

“A lot of our students, and even the business and industry, don’t have a voice unless somebody gives that voice to them,” said Hamm. “I don’t have a fancy resume’. I am not a flashy person. But because of the title I carry as a trustee, sometimes I can help carry a voice for somebody who needs it. It’s important to try to be a voice for other people to make sure we are advocating for quality and improvements that the institution may need.”

During her ten year tenure on the board, Hamm has held the position of both vice chair and chair. As chair, she would meet with the president to go over the agenda before it was set and guide the monthly meetings.

The most important decision she has been involved with so far was the hiring of current PCC president, Dr. Michael Calvert, after former president, Dr. William Wojciechowski retired in 2013. The biggest challenges she has faced include the ongoing issue of funding, and for her personally, the game of politics.

“Learning how (the politics) works is a challenge,” said Hamm. “It’s disappointing sometimes how long the relationship building can take. It’s not necessarily bad, but it’s definitely a part of the politics I don’t always enjoy.”

Hamm’s involvement with the board has led her down more paths for her to make an impact and be a voice for PCC as a whole. She has served on the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees (KACCT) executive committee for the past five years and is currently finishing up her second stint as president. Her duties include taking a lead in the committee’s quarterly meetings and monthly phone conference calls. She believes the KACCT is a vital organization, as all 19 community colleges in Kansas are represented and the organization provides one solid voice for the community colleges in the higher education sector. Her reasoning for being so involved is simple.

“I love the student success. I love the mission of community colleges – making education affordable and attainable for everybody. I enjoy helping to build our state,” said Hamm.

As a married mother of four and transitioning back into the work force as a teacher at Liberty Middle School, finding time to be involved is a challenge, but making time to give back to the college that began her higher education is something Hamm takes seriously.

“PCC afforded me an opportunity that I needed as a student to have an affordable education which then led to my degree of teaching. It feels good to be able to give back and still be a part of a really neat institution,” said Hamm. “There’s such a neat sense of pride being a part of something that helped me get to where I am at today.”

This year, Pratt Community College is honoring those who choose to help build the futures of our students. Each month during 2019, PCC is proud to feature those alumni, community members, board members and faculty who have done their part to build the future of the lives of students as well as the growth of the institution. If you would like to be considered for one of our monthly features, contact Jessica Ward at 620-450-2192, jessicaw@prattcc.edu.