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Adkins kept HCC connected with the community

July 21, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

For the past 33 years, Mona Adkins has been that first voice over the telephone that callers to Hagerstown Community College would hear. But Adkins' real contribution has been of her heart and soul to the school and its students.

"The telephone rang at my home one night back in 1969 and then-college president Atlee Kepler asked if I would take the 'new' switchboard job at the college," Adkins said.

The timing was perfect since Adkins had just quit her job at a bank and was looking for a new challenge.

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And she found it at the then-compact campus off Robinwood Drive that was just beginning to grow, both in size and stature.

"I was recommended for the job because it was known I had had training with the telephone company," Adkins said.

But as it turned out, it was her way with people that put Adkins' personal stamp on the job through the years.

These days, Adkins is trying to get used to some newfound spare time after ending her career at the college in June. But she firmly is committed to continuing her work with HCC in a number of arenas.

"As secretary of the HCC Hawks Boosters Club, I've spent a lot of time on efforts to raise funds for the school," Adkins said. "That will certainly continue. Plus, I still am the cheerleading adviser."

Adkins said retired HCC men's basketball coach Jim Brown was the kind of person who could spread enthusiasm and get the job done.

"Jim would always say to me, 'Mona, make it happen,' and whatever it was, we made it happen for those kids," Adkins said.

The first arts and crafts show at the college was Adkins' brainchild. She is proud that since 1992, the Hawks Boosters have raised more than $10,000 for scholarships.

Through her years on the switchboard, Adkins said she often was the first contact prospective students had with the college. Her job was to direct callers to the person who could take care of their needs.

"Professor Larry Sharpe used to call me 'Mission Control,'" Adkins said. "Some don't realize that the support staff is what holds the college together, setting students up with financial aid, counselors and paving their way."

Being on the front line can be rewarding, Adkins said.

But it also can be stressful, especially when callers take their frustrations or anger out on the person answering the phone.

"There is an automated system now and that helps eliminate some of that stress," Adkins said. But it also cuts back on the personal contact.

Adkins is planning to volunteer at Washington County Hospital and she said she wouldn't be surprised if they put her on the switchboard.

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