Carolina Connet Memorial Endowment
A Memorial Tribute to Caroline Connet
By George Thomas
Shock, a terrible sense of emptiness and loss, disbelief, sadness, grief…none of the usual words that come to mind at a time like this are adequate to express what I have felt since learning of Caroline’s death.
I’ll never forget the day I met Caroline. She had applied to the JCC personnel office shortly after moving to Smithfield from Tennessee. As soon as I saw her application I knew that she was the answer to a prayer. We desperately needed an English instructor for the upcoming semester. In addition, a proposal was in the works to request that the JCC administration authorize a quality improvement team to evaluate the need for an Advising Center. Caroline instantly met both needs. She had a master’s degree in English and had organized and directed an Advising Center in Tennessee that was the model system for that state’s colleges and universities. Caroline was no ordinary English instructor. She had been honored as an Instructor of the Year nominee and also as Community College Instructor of the Year.
Caroline lived up to all expectations and more. She did an outstanding job in the classroom while laying the groundwork for our Advising Center. All obstacles were met with a gracious smile and a non-threatening determination to provide our students a top notch Advising Center. Caroline succeeded in every respect. Her expertise on advising was recognized nationally. Just a few months ago she was selected as a presenter at the annual meeting of a national professional association of academic advisers.
Caroline was an outstanding coworker with a great attitude and spirit. She was always flexible, always willing to listen, always open to suggestion, and always stood her ground when it really mattered with charm, grace, and dignity. One of her trademarks was her humor and her disarming smile.
Professionally we will greatly miss Caroline. She has left a void at Johnston Community College that will not be easily filled. During her short tenure with us, Caroline raised the bar leaving us with a difficult challenge to meet.
There are many of us who have lost a dear friend whose memory will be eternally cherished. On last speaking to Caroline, I called her as she was walking past my office door. When she stepped in my office, I told her how much I appreciated the outstanding job she was doing. She laughed it off and went on her way, but I knew inside that she appreciated being appreciated. In reflection, it is comforting to know that when we last talked, I made her smile.
We do not know what the future holds for any of us, but if by chance you see Caroline before I do, tell her that I miss her.
Pictured: Scholarship recipient (left), Jenny Stewart, JCC Foundation Board Member (right)