Michelle Craft has always been the kind of person to meet her goals—no matter the barriers.
When she didn’t have a way to pay for her own education, she found a job that would help cover some of the cost.
When she had to stay up late to take care of kids while going to school, she did it—even if it meant she’d have to stay up even later to finish assignments.
When she was asked to mentor and train new staff at Ohio State, she did.
When she was asked to become Senior Director of the Career Services department at Florida Career College in Tampa, she built relationships with hundreds of employers and developed a record of helping students get hired.
All of it has contributed to making her the kind of leader a team loves to follow and for her support, encouragement, and ability to meet goals, Michelle was named the 2022 Administrator of the Year by the Florida Association of Post-Secondary School and Colleges (FAPSC).
‘THAT’S WHAT EDUCATION IS ABOUT‘
Michelle’s can-do attitude may have something to do with the way she was raised. Her mother was an immigrant to the United States, and she learned from her to keep moving forward.
“When you come from an Asian background everyone has these standards, you have to make the best with what you have, you have to try, you just cannot give up, you cannot throw in the towel,” Michelle said. “You have to keep pushing yourself and I just kept doing it. I kept pushing. Didn’t matter what I had to do… I had to work a full-time job. I had to go to school.”
Michelle worked full time as a medical assistant while in school to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). She decided to make the switch to teaching in 2010. She came to Florida Career College to teach the allied health courses in Medical Assistant Technician, Patient Care Technician, and Medical Front Office and Billing, and has worked her way up within the organization. She reflects on her own experience going to school as she works with students.
“I didn’t come from the same backgrounds as our students but I understand what it means to have a full time job, to have kids, to have to work, to do all those things and to want to change your career path,” she said.
The reward comes when the student finds success.
“I used to say it’s about graduation day but in the grand scheme of things it’s not just about graduation day,” Michelle said. “It’s seeing them work in the field and excel. I have students who are nurses now. I have students who run call centers who studied medical front office… It’s a whirlwind. To see how it impacts them and their family and impacts their life, that’s what education is about.”
‘SHE JUST GETS IT DONE‘
Her ability to problem solve has led Michelle to be the Senior Director of Career Services. She works closely with the Career Services teams at several FCC campuses to help students get placed in externships and eventually find jobs after graduation.
“I have never seen anything like it,” said James York, Vice President of Leadership, Culture and Learning. “She thinks about getting it done before I ask her to get it done. It is amazing! She is extremely thorough and organized but I think the most powerful component is she just gets it done. She supports her team. She does whatever is needed to do to support the campus… It’s one of the most peaceful and powerful things a leader can feel is knowing their team will get it done.”
“It’s about the mentoring,” Michelle said. “It’s about finding different ways and thinking outside the box. I’ve always been the type of person who believes it’s about getting your team on board. Your team is the basis and it’s the rubber that hits the road. If you can guide your team and show them what needs to be done, things start to work, and the train starts moving. For me, it’s about being able to build a team, reformat, think outside the box and work together.”
In building her team, Michelle loves to work alongside them, mentoring by example.
“She’s a hands-on leader,” said Joan Yourstone, Senior Vice President of Career Services. “She jumps right in with her team when they need something and really relates well with the students. When we have issues on other campuses, she is the first to volunteer to go help her peers… She’s a pretty tenacious person. When she has a goal and she’s set to do it, she has a lot of grit and determination to reach that goal. I think that’s a great quality about her that fits really well in culture.”
Michelle gives her team all the credit for her recent recognition from FAPSC, 2022 Administrator of the Year. The award is given to administrators who can demonstrate enhanced productivity, adherence to the highest moral principles, commitment to inspiring others, a positive impact on the institution, and outstanding efforts to support student success.
“It doesn’t matter how high you are (in your position), there’s always room for improvement and there’s always room for learning,” Michelle said. “I always think of our CEO Fardad Fateri, he always ends his comments with ‘Onwards and upwards.’ That’s all I think about. That’s always in the back of my mind. What’s the next thing? What do we have to do?”