Students can feel a sense of openness when visiting the office of new interim Puyallup campus President Colette Pierce Burnette.
Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and an active military spouse, Burnette has discovered a newfound passion for the Pacific Northwest and Pierce College.
She is excited to return to the college and shares her passion with students and faculty.
Burnette was first introduced to Pierce when she came to the college as an information technology professor, eager to gain more classroom experience. She described Pierce as a great place to learn and work.
Burnette strives to be approachable to students, which appears easy for her because of her friendly and charismatic nature. She is interested in listening to what students have to say and has the phrase “Think Students…Then Decide” on a slip of paper on the computer monitor by her desk.
She plans to host open forum times for students to stop in her office to visit. If students have a question or issue bothering them, or just want to come in and introduce themselves, Burnette is more than happy to see new faces.
She plans to start a Pierce President Facebook page to better connect with students and communicate with them directly. Reaching out to students is one of Burnette’s main goals for this school year.
“I don’t know what I don’t know. I want to be an active listener and gain insight into what Pierce students feel is important and of issue,” she said.
She is a strong advocate for student voice.
“Students have power because they are the backbone of Pierce,” Burnette said.
Burnette will be the Puyallup campus president for the 2012-2013 school year and is looking to stay on permanently, so she can encourage students to embrace greatness and promote positive change to the Puyallup campus.
Currently, Burnette enjoys living in downtown Tacoma with Mount Rainier in the background. On weekends she often finds herself exploring new restaurants. She said she loves to learn new things. She recently began taking harp lessons.
Burnette has a noticeable zest for life. She is an avid reader but finds most of her inspiration and insight from her two children. They remind her to live in the moment by embracing new opportunities and not to fear the unknown.
She vividly remembers when she had to overcome adversity while attending Ohio State as an engineering major. She was the only African American female in an environment dominated by white males.
“It was rough, but by persevering I ended up learning how to be tough and determined,” she said.
When referring to student success, Burnette said students should be in the moment to learn and get the knowledge they need.
“We create our own destiny in many ways,” she said. “Students should take ownership of their education because learning is life-long.”
When talking about the importance of community college, Burnette said these colleges have many of the answers to the world’s problems inside their doors.
“It provides for some sense of stability in people’s lives and gives them the quality experience that will help nurture their strengths,” she said.
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