Erin Clouser

Financial Aid Loan Officer, Reading Area Community College

What brought you to RACC?

I was studying at a private four-year college in rural West Virginia and had some severe health problems that needed to be handled by a better health system than what was available in that area. When I came back to this area for treatment by a nationally recognized doctor in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, I decided to take classes at a local college in order to stay on track for graduation. Since I was living in Berks County, RACC made a lot of sense. RACC became so much more than just the "bridging the gap" college meant to keep me from falling behind in my studies. For the remainder of my education I kept coming back for summer classes because I loved it here so much.

How did your experience at RACC shape your career path?

My intended career path was to teach at an elementary school, preferably the International School near Waterloo Belgium where I had made connections as a "juene-fille-au-pair" in between high school and college. My health made Belgium an impossible climate long-term, so alternately I planned to teach in Pennsylvania until I could find an international teaching position. I was not able to find a local teaching position because of a change in state policy, so I used the work experience I had gained as a student worker at RACC to step into a full-time position in Financial Aid "temporarily." Several of the international teaching options I was considering did not work out within the first year or two of my employment at RACC, and I loved it so much here that I have not really considered looking for a job in "my field" since. I have been a full-time employee at RACC for almost 16 years, and my experiences here entirely redirected my career path in a great way.

What advice/insight would you give to current RACC students?

Sometimes your life takes unexpected twists and turns. As much as life goals are great, and having a plan is important and helpful, do not allow yourself to be so stuck on your goals and plans that you miss the enjoyment of the "detours." Sometimes those detours are meant to help you appreciate the end goal more when you finally achieve it, and sometimes they are meant to redirect you to a place you never would have considered on your own. Either way, do not allow yourself to lose your joy in the "detours." Life is too short to waste on a bad attitude about where you would rather be today.

2021 marks RACC's 50th Anniversary. What message would you like to pass on to President Looney and the RACC Community on this historic occasion?

In many ways, 50 years is a long time! For an institution to last that length of time it needs to be dependable, faithful to its goals and mission, and yet at the same time innovative, creative, and flexible to the changes of the world around it. Yet in comparison to the age of our nation, or even human history, 50 years is virtually nothing; blink and you miss it. Horace Greely once said, "Fame is a vapor, popularity an accident, and riches take wings. Only one thing endures and that is character." Character is what has made RACC continue to exist, and character is what will define your life and what others will remember about you. Use your short time on this planet to build character, because that is what will give you an enduring legacy.