PAT program uses latest software

Sandra Rodriguez enrolled in the Professional Administrative Technology (PAT) program at Lee College with the hope of learning computer and business skills that would be useful in a wide variety of well-paying jobs — just what she needed to better support her son and daughter.

Since earning her Associate of Applied Science degree in May, Rodriguez has not only secured a position as a secretary to college Pres. Dennis Brown; she has struck an ideal balance between work and family, and is now able to help her children with their homework in a way she would not have been able to without her education.

“I went in for my kids, but found out that it was really for me,” said Rodriguez, whose typical day in the President’s Office may include everything from answering phones, to screening e-mails and making arrangements for staff meetings.  “I’ve loved it.  I enjoy helping people, and there are so many ways that I can do that here.  I’m living my goal right now.”

Instead of an associate degree, students in the PAT program can also earn exit-point certificates of completion.  Courses include computer applications, keyboarding, technical writing, workplace diversity and business correspondence and communication, among others. Instructors provide students with practical experiences in the classroom that mimic those they may have in a future workplace, and even help them put together resumes and practice interviewing skills, said faculty member Melinda Rose.

The number of available administrative positions nationwide is expected to grow 12 percent by 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of the new opportunities will exist in the medical, legal and executive fields, in particular.

“Administrative support is something that every company needs,” Rose said. “It’s our pride that we train the students on the latest and greatest computer software, so they will be prepared for whatever they may find. At any moment, if they have an opportunity, they have the tools to be successful.”

For Kimberly Sorola, enrolling in the PAT program was a perfect way to polish the secretarial skills she already had.  A single mother of one when she began to take classes part-time, she is now a human resources specialist for Lee College — putting her advanced knowledge of professionalism and proper business etiquette to good use every day.

“I knew that I wasn’t going to get anywhere without an education,” Sorola said.  “Those classes helped me learn time management skills, how to listen and take notes, how to prioritize, how to meet deadlines and even how to dress — your appearance at work sets the tone, along with your attitude. I know that I represent the college not just when I’m on campus, but everywhere I go.”

She credits her instructors in the PAT program with leading her in the right direction for a thriving career.

“If instructors have that passion for teaching, they can really influence their students,” Sorola said. “I was very blessed to have good instructors to give me the encouragement I needed.  I like being the glue that holds everything in the office together.”

For more information about the Professional Administrative Technology program, contact Rose at 281.425.6405 or mrose@lee.edu.