As the new vice president of institutional advancement, Deidre Soileau is an ardent advocate for student success and the positive influence community colleges have on a local level.
Although her last name suggests a French background, Soileau is from Cleveland, Ohio. Her late husband, whose last name Soileau took as her own, died in December 2012 from a rare form of cancer.
After her loss, she decided to turn her life into a new direction and left behind a city and job she was unhappy with.
She moved to Kirkland to spend time with her son, daughter-in-law and baby granddaughter. It was here that she explored an array of interests, such as quilting, kayaking, C++ programming (she even considered becoming a computer programmer to write games) and spending time with her granddaughter.
This was an important part of her hiatus, as she focused on trying to decide what to do with the rest of her life. This led her to reflect on where she was happiest and most enthusiastic in her career: community college.
“I love community colleges. The reason they exist is so everyone gets a shot,” Soileau said.
Soileau is working on her doctoral program, and the core of her dissertation analyzes what the most cost-effective, local interventions are that can help prepare students for college.
Soileau works with the college’s advancement team. The team focuses on the “big picture,” providing data, communication and resources to move things forward in building the college’s success. Their work is designed to provide support for students and faculty on an administrative level.
She began in September, and describes most of her workday as comprised of planning, keeping track of activities, dates and timelines in order to help facilitate this process.
Her advice for success is preluded by a story about her father. When she finished graduate school and earned her first corporate job, her father, a corporate executive, wrote her a five-page letter of advice which was published in a literary magazine.
On piece of advice she found important was: “Whatever happens, it’s never as bad or good as you think it is, and your biggest failures are gone tomorrow.” Her own personal motto is to make each day count.
“Do the right thing. Whatever’s in front of you that is the right thing to do, focus on that,” Soileau said.
Soileau has a son, daughter and stepdaughter. Her daughter works on the board of elections in Cuyahoga county, Ohio, and her son was recently published in Puget Sound’s “40 under 40.”
Soileau’s stepdaughter has a baby on the way and lives in Louisiana with her husband. Soileau plan to visit them closer to the due date.
She enjoys books by Tolstoy and Lewis Sinclair, crosswords to unwind at the end of the day and theater productions. Her last piece of advice to students comes from her husband.
“Never ever ever ever ever ever ever give up.”
This is the opportunity for growth, and ultimately, a tool for building success.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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