After working as the communication department’s administrative assistant for approximately four years, Donna Greek is saying goodbye to Florida Southern’s campus.
Greek has been a key part of the functionality of the communication department, with her responsibilities like managing student workers, work study requests, pay orders, check requests, travel expense reports and helping students and professors in any way she could.
A Lakeland native, Greek found the position at FSC through a connection she made while attending McKeel Academy. Greek played soccer with Rose Pagano, who works in the nursing building, and Pagano told Greek about the position in the communication department.
“[She] was like ‘Hey, I have a position that I think you would really like, and they really need someone who’s organized,’ and… I’m very into organization,” Greek said.
Before working at FSC, Greek worked as a substitute teacher and a nanny while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Polk State College.
Greek explains that her love of organization brought her to FSC, which she joked “makes [her] sound like a real nerd,” and then once she got to FSC and learned what interpersonal and organizational communication was, she realized that was something she really enjoyed.
A few months later, she decided to stop taking classes at Polk State, since FSC would pay for her bachelors degree.
Greek is very aware of her financial status when at FSC, and explains that this class awareness began in high school when she had a $400 Craigslist car she had to replace the transmission in twice, while her classmates would drive brand new expensive cars. Another difference she felt was a difference in experiences.
“I don’t know, I feel like there’s that and being around people who don’t understand what it’s like to not have people to fall back onto, or not be able to do things or, go places or just have experiences that others are able to,” Greek said.
Such an experience is the ability to have family vacations, or something as simple as healthcare.
“I had to save up money and [pay] 16 hundred dollars in cash to get all my wisdom teeth taken out because we didn’t have insurance,” Greek said.
This class awareness shaped how she saw her future.
“I was only a few miles away [from FSC], and I literally never thought I would be here. Not working, not going to school, nothing,” Greek said.
Greek explains that, before working here, she only ever came to the FSC campus when she graduated from high school in the Branscomb Auditorium.
Greek feels that her experiences made her aware of how students in attendance have a base-level privilege that enables them to leave home and attend a private college. Greek herself cared for her grandmother who had Alzheimer’s, which affected her ability to leave home.
“I think that Florida Southern was an amazing opportunity, and it has definitely shown me the benefits and the drawbacks of higher education, both in a private and public [sense]…,” Greek said.
Greek felt her position at FSC also revealed the humanity of higher education, an institution she saw as romanticized.
“[Being a professor is] like [being] this person on a pedestal, and then somebody asks you how to open a .pdf and then you’re like oh, we’re all just humans and you’re not actually a mythical being,” Greek said. “Though it was kind of nice and humbling, and… you know how people say people don’t actually know what they’re doing, everybody’s just guessing? It’s not wrong.”
Greek also speaks highly of the communication department, saying that the department feels “like family,” and that this position differs from her past retail and managerial positions where she was looked down on.
“So, even though I am the person who sits at the desk, I am considered an equal, which was not something I was prepared for,” Greek said. “I was more kind of prepared to be like, [who] everyone just dumps things onto, which, while I do have things just dumped on me, it’s with respect, and not like ‘well, you’re a garbage person, so take care of my garbage type thing.’”
She explains that being around the communication professors and an educational environment made her realize she wants to work towards a master’s degree.
As for her next move, Greek plans on nannying twins for a friend, a position she has done in the past. She also plans on getting her Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification and teaching students online.
“I’m hoping that I can get some local places or local students, probably people who’ve immigrated over and need some help getting their language where it needs to be,” Greek said.
Greek’s overall life aspirations land outside of the U.S., and currently she sees herself applying for a full-english Master’s program in Germany after moving to Germany and settling in for a while and being an au pair, and eventually teaching on a collegiate level.
After taking an intercultural communication course at FSC, Greek hopes to study national and transnational studies. She explains that she grew up in a racist household, and the course gave her a better understanding of this perspective.
As Greek’s eyes turn towards her future, there are things she will miss, like the faculty and students.
“I’m definitely going to miss my department, and everybody that’s in it,” Greek said. ”That includes the faculty and the students, there are some students that are close to my heart, you know the ones that actually come and talk to me.”