Theresa Lee is committed to JCC – 45 years to be exact.

Lee, an admissions specialist for health programs, is the college’s longest serving employee and the most recent Rudolph Howell Staff Person of the Year.

As she reflects on her four decades here, she said she has enjoyed every job title and every day of her work.

“I was raised on a farm so that should sum it up,” she said. “You work hard if you live in the country. You’re taught to be dedicated and do a good job no matter how many hours it takes.”

Lee earned her associate’s degree in office systems technology in 1972, and the next year started working in admissions at JCC. She said she has witnessed the college grow rapidly during her tenure.

“Student services was small back then, and financial aid was a part of admissions,” she said. “JCC has really grown a lot.”

Lee said she is a believer of the community college system, and the best part of her job is seeing students succeed. “I try to put myself in their position,” she said. “You have to try to relate to them and let them know that this will take work but encourage them to give it time and persistence.”

What words of professional advice does she give others?

“My number one priority is customer service,” she said. “I think about how I want to be treated as a customer. If the phone rings, you better answer it. You have to go the extra mile to help students. In the long run, the whole college benefits from this.”

Some students come in and say they are so confused so I try to explain things in a way they can understand,” she added. “When they leave they’ve got a smile on their face and say they’re glad they came by. That makes it all worth it.”

Even after 45 years working at the same place, Lee said she still does not have a retirement plan.