Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Meet Pat Evans

Instructional Assistant & Testing Center Manager

Reynolds Testing Center

Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I was born and raised in Richmond, VA. I lived in Jackson Ward through the 3rd grade. The summer before I began 4th grade, we moved to Church Hill.  Growing up in both neighborhoods was fun and adventurous. I grew up in the era when children were told, “Go outside and find something to do. Don’t come back until it’s time to eat or before dark". And outside we went. We played games, walked to each other’s houses, and taught each other all of the words to the latest songs and all of the latest dances. There were no organized play dates. All of the neighbors were babysitters. Everyone knew each other in detail—your momma and daddy, your grandparents, your siblings, etc. Every adult watched out for you and stepped in on the spot if you misbehaved. Then they would let you know that your parents would be informed. We played, talked, argued, sometimes fought and made up. I still have friendships from that time in my life.

How long have you worked for Reynolds and what
brought you here?
I have worked for Reynolds for 42 years. Yes, I said it—42 years. Say it loud, 42 and I’m “proud”. I came here to start my education.  I had a part-time job at the telephone company in my senior year of high school working after school and full-time during the summer. I was offered a full-time position. I didn’t think that was the right fit for me. You couldn’t talk to each other while working, you were timed when you left for breaks and lunch, etc.—very regimented. It was hilarious watching the full-time employees find innovative ways to communicate with one another without being caught. A lot of people, including family members, thought I was crazy. Back then, it was a big deal to get hired at one of big companies. Reynolds was in its infancy. An outreach team came to Armstrong High School (Go Wildcats) to talk about this new “community college”. So I was a student, a work-study student, a part-time employee and then on to full-time.  I have worked the academic side, the non-credit side and off-campus.  I have worked in the School of Business, formerly known as the Business Division, in Continuing Education, in the Community College Workforce Alliance, and now, Student Affairs. I have been a secretary, an instructional assistant, a trainer, an adjunct instructor, a site manager, and a program manager.  I am now the Testing Center Manager for the DTC.

What is the best part of your job?
You have heard this before. I love interacting with people—the students, co-workers, the public, etc. I get to interact with people from all walks of life, all age groups, different backgrounds and life experiences, etc. Most of the time, it a good thing, sometimes it’s not, but it’s always interesting. You never know who is going to walk into your office, what their needs will be, and how they will present themselves. You just have to be ready, flexible and open to be of assistance.  I have also developed and maintained some life-time friendships here.

Tests make all of us nervous, no matter how much we have prepared. How do you keep test-takers calm and
relaxed for their test?
Tests do make all of us nervous. And different people handle the stress differently. Also, the level of stress increases from the beginning of the semester to the end. You can just feel it. We greet everyone that comes into the testing center. You can usually judge their mood and mindset by the response that you receive. We just try to be low key and friendly, and get the student processed and seated as quickly as possible. We try to develop a feel for what they want or need and adapt our interaction as needed. Some people want a lot of interaction and hand holding and others just want to get to their test.  It definitely tests your “people skills”, but meeting the challenge of having a satisfied customer when they leave, is worth the effort.

What has been your greatest challenge in your position so far?
The biggest challenge so far has been trying to do all that we do with a staff that is completely part-time. It means a lot of staff turnover and continuous training. What we do is not rocket science, but the devil is in the details. We proctor a variety of tests, placement, distance, makeup, Foreign Language Achievement Testing, Credit by Able Testing for ITE 115 and CSC 155, specialty testing for Nursing and Allied Health, Culinary Arts, etc. The list goes on. We provide proctoring services for Reynolds students, those who want to become Reynolds students, and students from other Virginia community colleges. We proctor internet-based tests, Blackboard based tests, and paper tests. All testing is offered on a walk-in basis, so you have to be prepared to go from zero to 60 at a moment’s notice.  Again, that helps keep things interesting, challenging and fun.  There is a lot of communication with staff from the other testing centers, staff and faculty from the various Schools and other College areas like Distance Ed, Middle College, ESL, etc. We reach out to whomever we need to be able to assist the students. I have been lucky over the years to find qualified and enthusiastic people to share this responsibility with me. My staff and I share the good, and not so good, support one another, and make it work.

What is your favorite food? Why?
I love good, down-home southern cooking. The basics like fried chicken, baked chicken, fried fish, baked fish, mac and cheese, collard greens, cabbage, green beans, potato salad, corn pudding, etc. I judge it all by my mother’s cooking, and most of the time what I am finding out there now, doesn’t meet her standards. Now, I also love chocolate—chocolate candy, chocolate cake (preferably Devil’s Food), chocolate mousse, etc. Is chocolate considered a food?
What is your favorite Richmond activity outside of your
work at Reynolds?
Well my favorite activity outside of Reynolds is reading. I know that sounds boring, but reading relaxes me. I take a book with me everywhere that I go.  There is a book laying on my desk right now. I drive my family crazy, but we are all avid readers. Sometimes I feel the need to visit places in the neighborhoods where I used to live, especially, Libby Hill Park and Chimborazo Park in Historic Church Hill. It hadn’t been designated as Historic when I was growing up there. My husband and I will drive around and visit the areas where we grew up and met. We spent a lot of time in Libby Hill Park and Chimborazo Park, walking around and talking about our future (cheap date). We used to take our children, and now we take our grandson. He is into statues now. He is really in love with the Statue of Liberty and the Maggie Lena Walker statue. At his request, one of us or all of us, will jump into a vehicle and drive around Richmond checking out all of the statues in the various parks and on Monument Avenue. Do you know that there is a miniature Statue of Liberty in Chimborazo Park?  

If you won $100 Million in the Mega Millions lottery what would you do with the money?
Okay, you know, the usual. Pay all the bills, provide for your family, give to charities.  I would love to fund locations for kids to go after school and weekends to get help with reading, homework and tutoring. Then you would find me at every Dallas Cowboy football game, and at all of the major tennis tournaments, Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US open.