The employees at the Colorado Early Colleges Network Support Center are united by a single passion: to help students succeed in school and in life. “I don’t think there is any employee who sees their position as just a job,” said MelindaJoy Mingo, Director of Human Relations. “Every day is an opportunity to be a champion to the students, no matter their background or skill level,” she continued.
Colorado Early Colleges allows high school students to take college classes alongside their regular coursework. Students are able to graduate with a high school diploma and a technical education certificate, an associate degree or a minimum of 60 college credits. Five campuses are spread along the Colorado Front Range.
Located in Colorado Springs, the CEC Network Support Center is the hub of operations for all the schools. “We are the leadership vein of every school in Colorado,” said Mingo. “It really is a network: a group of people coming together with a common goal and passion — to support students,” she added.
Mingo believes her staff at the Network Support Center come to work each day with a unique enthusiasm, fueled in part by the knowledge that their ideas are heard and taken into consideration.
“The work we do here is very innovative, very creative. I allow the staff to have input into the leadership process. Our leadership at CEC is very interested in listening to our ideas. They are relational; they don’t talk down to staff but rather empower them. I have the autonomy to create a lot of innovative systems,” she said.
Mingo’s staff feel that autonomy as well; “I enjoy the freedom and trust to bring my best self to work every day. I also appreciate the commitment to innovation and spirit of entrepreneurship that mirrors (CEC’s) mission of providing students with an early college education,” said Jennifer Malenkey, Director of Philanthropy and Strategic Partnerships.
The team at the Network Support Center believe the work they do positively impacts the lives of the students enrolled in CEC. “When I saw the washer and dryer in our Aurora school campus for the students who may not have access to this at home, it brought tears to my eyes. At that moment I realized this is an organization that thinks of education ‘holistically:’ it is truly a place that is supportive of today’s young adult, with a strong team of individuals backing them from all walks of life. That’s what makes this a great place to work: knowing I’m a small part of someone’s future,” said Deborah Lowder, administrative assistant.
“Our team here at the Network Support Center is very diverse; we range in age from about 20 years old to about 70. But we are proof that there is a way for people of diverse backgrounds to work together when they are united by a common goal,” said Mingo.
Mingo strives to ensure every member of her team feels they are an important part of the organization. “I think a workplace is only great when each individual is valued. I believe that every employee should be treated with dignity, value and worth. Every employee is important; no one is ‘only’ anything,” she said.