Building Futures: Chris Himmelwright

09 July 2019

Chris Himmelwright hasn’t always been a part of the Pratt community. In fact, she and her husband are native Californians who embraced the small town life in 1981 after inheriting a fourth generation farm. Pratt has since developed into home for the Himmelwrights, and despite the daily challenges they must juggle, Chris tries to find time to give back to the community she has grown to love. One of the ways she gives back is by serving on Pratt Community College’s President’s Advisory Board.

“A few years ago, I received a letter asking if I would be interested in joining,” said Himmelwright. “I’m on the Health Foundation as well, which is kind of the same thing. It is not the hospital board, just like the President’s Advisory Board is not the PCC Board of Trustees. We are a liaison to the community.”

Many members of the President Advisory Board hail from the various businesses in the Pratt area and are not necessarily connected to the college, said Himmelwright. They meet once a quarter for lunch, which provides them the opportunity to tell PCC President Dr. Michael Calvert what they are hearing in the community, how different events were perceived, and so on. They also have the chance to address the various needs in the community and brainstorm a solution. The newest program at PCC, Modern Distribution Sales and Management, started out as an idea brought to one of the meetings.

“One member has tried to and succeeded in partnering with the college in a manufacturing program and certificate,” said Himmelwright. “Another has done some work where PCC has been at least open to programs in his industry. That’s really the future, I think, for community colleges.”

Other topics they discuss include the ever looming issue of funding.
“(Community colleges) are not going to get the funding they once enjoyed,” said Himmelwright. “As Dr. Calvert has pointed out, it’s much more expensive to educate auto mechanic students than an English student because of all the equipment. You’ve got this rise in the cost of education and a lowering of funding. It’s a challenge.”

As a stay at home mom, Himmelwright believes that participating on boards and associations are a great way to stay involved in the community and make sure her voice was heard. Her biggest challenge on the President’s Advisory Board is contributing to some of the discussion since she does not have or work for a business, but she loves hearing ideas and providing her opinions to better the college and the community – something she believes is worth making time for.  

“Some people can’t do it,” said Himmelwright. “They have kids, families, work and church. I was for the most part able to juggle everything. There were times I had to pay a babysitter so I could come to meetings, but it is well worth it.”

She encourages those who do have the time to serve on a board in the community.

“It’s our community. It’s a small time commitment that’s a good thing from both standpoints – for the industry that is trying to reach the community and the community that wants to feel like they are helping. It’s very beneficial.”

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.