Chemeketa Interim President Julie Huckestein not only has extensive community college experience on her resume, she also knows firsthand the challenges many of her students face.
At the age of 18 Huckestein started taking classes towards a legal secretary degree at Linn-Benton Community College,
“I remember being anxious as I navigated financial aid and found my way to classes.”
Life interrupted her education and she never finished that program. Eventually she returned to school, and at the age of 37 she received her associate’s degree then went on to get a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in education policy and administration.
“My beginning at a community college gave me everything I needed to prepare for furthering my education.”
Huckestein started her community college career in the accounting office of her alma mater, Linn-Benton where she worked for 14 years before taking a post in 2001 as director of business services at Chemeketa. She was promoted to Assistant Chief Financial Officer in 2004 and became Vice President/CFO in 2010.
The Chemeketa Board of Education appointed Huckestein interim president this past July. She replaced Cheryl Roberts who took over the presidency of Shoreline Community College in Seattle.
Huckestein says this new role is a chance to put her personal motto into action –
“You must do those things you think you cannot do. You can’t grow if you only do the things that keep you comfortable.”
Huckestein has made a great impression in her new role. In the Chemeketa Faculty Association’s monthly report to the College Board of Education, association president Traci Hodgson wrote –
“She is communicating well… and her respect for faculty is evident in those communications.
With such strong leadership, faculty is looking forward to his academic year as one that will be productive and positive.”
Huckestein’s empathy and rapport come from at least two sources. One source is how she values being kind and careful with other people’s feelings. Another source comes from her life experience. She pointed out in her welcome message to students that the college is made up of many stories and everyone has his or her own to tell.
“My story has two beginnings, one where it ended before I achieved my educational goal and another where I succeeded.”
As she enters the next chapter of her story, Huckestein uses her life experience as ongoing inspiration; telling the Chemeketa Courier student newspaper,
“Every term there’s this general sense of excitement. And that’s what’s great about working at a community college: Every term you get to be with people who want to do something with their lives.”