Mary Perkins helps put the word “community” in Elgin Community College

  • Tags: Administrator Profile | Newsletter
Published 01/21/2020
Mary Perkins

Mary Perkins

As Dean of College Transitions and Secondary Partnerships, Mary Perkins brings together the college and the community to develop strategies and programs to help students achieve their dreams.

“I fully believe that our work with our secondary partners is integral to the future success of the college and our students,” said Perkins. “When we link arms to work toward common goals, we can be more purposeful in defining how we can work together to help more students achieve their goals.”

In her 14 years at ECC, Perkins has held many roles, including work in student development, faculty support, and her current role working with secondary partners. “In each role, I have grown and been challenged,” she added.

Read on to learn more about Perkins and how she strives to achieve balance in her life:

In your words, what do you do at ECC? What do you want others to know about your job? Or what would help others understand your job?

As Dean, I have responsibility for working with our secondary partners via the Alliance for College Readiness and coordinating a number of programs designed to promote successful student transition to college and careers. These include dual credit programs, student success courses, Transition Academy, general outreach and support to D509 families and students, and five TRiO grant programs: Student Support Services, Student Support Services ESL, Upward Bound I & II, and Talent Search Transitions.

What is your greatest accomplishment since you’ve been at ECC?

In 2009, I prepared the college’s application to participate in the national Achieving the Dream initiative. That application sparked countless student success projects and improvements.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work (i.e., hobbies/interests)?

I love being active with my family! My husband and I go to the gym together about five times a week. Any outdoor adventures are also fuel for my soul, especially when our three kids join us. Activities include hiking, kayaking/SUP, biking, etc. I also love my quiet time to read and meditate.

Where is the best place you’ve traveled? Or where would you like to visit? I want to visit Spain. My children have been learning Spanish as part of a dual-language program in our school district since they were in first grade. With each of them leaving high school with a seal of bi-literacy, I think it would be fun to travel through Spain together!

You have to wear a t-shirt with just one word on it for an entire year. What would that word be and why? Balance – it would remind me to reflect on how well I am doing balancing my roles as a mother, wife, friend, and professional with taking care of myself.

What job have you held (besides ECC) that was the most fun, interesting, or difficult?

At Rock Valley College, I worked as the institutional research manager. Before this role, I worked in student services. Working in a completely new part of the college challenged me to learn quickly about a field that I had limited experience in, and also determine how I could add value to the college in a way that was not through direct student service.

What was your most valuable life lesson?

One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is to become more self-aware. As a young professional, I did not have a full appreciation of my strengths. Nor did I have the insight to understand both the benefits and the challenges that came with those assets. I also had to learn that others’ strengths would differ from my own, and those strengths shaped how they interpreted and experienced the world. These days when working with others, I work hard to really see them and let them see me.

Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “

I am able to help others through the work that I do and get to do that work with incredible internal and external partners!