A new public information coordinator is putting her passion into action at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in a role that combines her love of education, writing and working with the media. Kathy McAdams took the new position this month, replacing Bill Snyder, who recently became the college’s full-time sports information director. McAdams is educated in the English language and history, and she’s honed her skills as a people person, thanks to careers in teaching and journalism. Since November 2006, she has worked as project and marketing manager for Gulf Coast’s Community Campus.
McAdams’ career at Gulf Coast actually began in 2005, when she came on as an adjunct language-arts instructor at the Jefferson Davis Campus in Gulfport. She continues to balance adjunct teaching online and in the traditional classroom with her full-time day job. A state-certified online instructor for Mississippi Virtual Community College, she taught English in Harrison County School from 1992 to 2000. Being a college instructor, however, has exposed her to the subjects she frequently interviews for articles.
“I think that by teaching I remain in touch with the students and their interests,” she said. “I love young people and like to hear what’s going on in their heads. I already identify with our non-traditional students since I’m a single mother who went back to school. And I really believe that is what allows us to be such a top-ranked, successful college – we always keep the students and the community at the forefront when we are planning and setting goals. It makes this a great place to work and a great place to get an education.”
McAdams holds a master’s degree in English curriculum and instruction from The University of Southern Mississippi and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of South Alabama. From January to November 2006, McAdams worked in the Institutional Relations department as part-time public affairs assistant. “I’m thrilled to be at this college. I’ve wanted to work here since moving back to Mississippi in the early 90s,” she said.
Of course, with any new employee come new goals. McAdams hopes to connect experts from the college with the media to serve as resources for local reporters. “I think the first step toward doing this is to talk to media representatives about their needs,” she said. She also thinks putting those experts on the speaking circuit would benefit the community.
McAdams plans to have a strong presence at Gulf Coast’s eight campuses and centers in George, Harrison, Jackson and Stone counties. “I want to get to know our people and encourage them to call me with story ideas or events that need promoting. ‘Accessible’ is my keyword for folks at the college and with the media,” she said.
For the last 10 years, McAdams has lived in west Stone County, but has remained a member of Woolmarket Baptist Church. Another constant in her life is family support. “My family is great. While I’m doing whatever high-wire act I’ve chosen to tackle, they remain my safety net. It allows me to try things I wouldn’t ordinarily be willing to try.”
McAdams has a 17-year-old daughter, Celeste. Her parents, Gulfport residents Tom and Willie Daniels, continue to be a vital part of her and her daughter’s lives. Her mother worked civil service at Keesler Air Force Base for 18 years and then taught high-school English for 22 years. She’s currently publishing her first novel, “Sweet Beulah,” which is expected to be in stores by early 2009. Her dad is a retired state trooper with the Mississippi Highway Patrol and a former Harrison County Justice Court judge. A retired chief warrant officer IV from the U.S. Army with more than 40 years of military experience, he currently serves as school-board president for the Harrison County School District. And her sister, Susan, is also part of the Gulf Coast family -- she’s taught language arts at the Jefferson Davis Campus for more than 10 years.
“I’ve learned so much during my time at Gulf Coast and as a student at our JD Campus,” McAdams said. “I’ve grown to appreciate the opportunities the college offers our community. Community colleges are Mississippi's best response to the educational demands of the 21st century. That’s the message I want our community to hear.”