COSHOCTON – Sometimes a person, an experience, changes the meaning of a life. This is the case for Mélanie Garrabrant.
“When I was young I didn’t have big dreams for myself,” she began. “I read stories and wondered what something could be like, but often felt like things – like going to college – were out of reach for me. It took me a long time to recognize my own potential and learn what supports are available.
“When I went back to college,” Garrabrant continued, “later in life (in my thirties) I began to see that things were possible and that I could do them. A professor that I will be. eternally grateful introduced me to international travel. I was able to take a 10 day study abroad trip to Italy and Greece, and it changed me as a person. I saw for the first time there was a world full of opportunity. Never in my youth did I dream of traveling abroad. College and mentoring made it possible. That’s when that I knew I wanted to stay in higher education for my career and help other students recognize and believe in their own potential.
Today, Garrabrant is director of admissions for the four sites of Central Ohio Technical College: Coshocton, Knox (Mt. Vernon), Newark and Pataskala. She also teaches English part time.
“My interest and desire,” she said, “to work and create a career in higher education, and admissions in particular, stem from my own experiences – being a first generation student, understanding this it’s about being uncertain and maybe a little scared, and knowing how important it is to have mentors and guides who help you overcome your fears, teach you and introduce you to new things and challenge you to “think bigger”.
Melanie (Gase) Garrabrant grew up in Tiffin, a small town southeast of Toledo. She graduated from high school in 1992 and quickly moved to Columbus. It was there that she got a part-time job at a daycare center and attended community college.
“At a young age, I didn’t know what I wanted to do or study in college,” she recalls. “Later in adulthood, after working and starting my own family, I decided I wanted to get a college degree, but not just in early childhood education like I originally started. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree, I completed a master’s degree in English – Rhetoric and Writing. All of my education encompasses my love for reading and writing, and a desire to learn, help, and teach others.
These are attributes that stand out from his colleagues.
“Mélanie is a great colleague and a huge asset to the college,” said James Jarc, assistant professor of digital media design at COTC. “She’s an accomplished professional who goes above and beyond in everything she does.
“Mélanie is fully committed to every project she undertakes, that’s for sure,” added Jarc. “She leads her team from an authentic and authentic place and knows how to get things done. I am honored to call her a colleague and friend.
“I work in admissions,” Garrabrant replied, “because I want to help people see their potential, understand their options and opportunities, and believe they can do it. I work with students because I care. I can relate to many of the challenges they face – going to school while working, being part (or responsible) of a family, having financial worries and being insecure.
“It’s part of the beauty of life,” she summed up. “You don’t always know where it will take you. Some things you plan, work hard to achieve, and some things happen. Experiences and people come into your life in unexpected ways. Whether planned or not, there are always things to learn, ways to grow and ways to help others. Ultimately, I want students to know that someone is in their corner, ready to guide and support them.
Central Ohio Technical College is located at 200 N. Whitewoman St. in Coshocton. For more information, call 740-622-1408 or log on to www.cotc.edu.
About the series
Aces of Trades is a weekly series focused on people and their jobs – whether it’s unusual jobs, fun jobs, or people taking regular jobs and making them extraordinary. If you have a suggestion for a future profile, let us know at [email protected]