Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks staff Q&A with Cathy Whitfield

When Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks opened its doors in October 1990, Cathy Whitfield, to borrow the poker phrase, ‘went all in.’ At the age of 34, Whitfield enrolled in the first classes offered at the campus and was a member of the first graduating class of four people, earning a degree in business administration.
Whitfield was among the first of four
graduates of the Lake campus in 1990.
This picture was taken as part of the 2010
graduation that featured 97 graduates
Fast forward 20 years and Whitfield has been a student or staff member since 1990 and now serves as the campus’ assistant director, providing invaluable insight and guidance for the campus. The proud grandmother of two also teaches business courses and says she is ‘living her dream thanks to Columbia College.’ Find out more about Whitfield below.

Name: Cathy Whitfield

Position at Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks: assistant director and adjunct faculty member

Alma Mater, Date of Graduation: Columbia College, B.S. Business Administration, 1995; William Woods University, MBA, 1997

Family members: Husband of 37 years, Dean, son, Aaron and his wife Nicole, grandson Noah (6 years old) and granddaughter Lillian (4 months old) who live in the Eldon area

Years at Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks: Employed at the Lake campus since 1992 and adjunct instructor since 1997

Hobbies: Reading and camping in my Fifth Wheel with my husband and two dogs

Favorite Movie and/or TV Show: “Gone with the Wind” is my favorite movie of all time and I never miss watching Grey’s Anatomy on television (or I record it!)

Favorite kind of music/favorite artist/song: I enjoy listening to any type of contemporary Christian music but I also like country music by Vince Gill and Brad Paisley

Favorite Book: Anything written by Robert Grissom, James Patterson or Danielle Steele

Favorite Food: Anything Mexican or chocolate!

Favorite subject in college: Business management and marketing, of course.

When I was 10 years old, I wanted to be a ______? Can you guess? A teacher, who would have imagined that I would be teaching college….

What is the best part about working at Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks? I truly enjoy my wonderful students and the great staff that I work with. It makes it fun and exciting to come to work every day.

What moment in your life are you the proudest of? That is really hard to choose between the time that I walked across the stage to receive my master’s diploma or when I watch my son with his children…so I will have to say…both.

Best excuse you have heard from a student who was late with their work? It was too windy for me to drive to school…. Hmm … in Missouri?

What piece of advice would you impart to a student prior to graduation? Do whatever it takes to attain the education needed for your dream career. Life is too short not to enjoy and be proud of what you do on a daily basis.

Talk about your journey and what lead you to Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks: I was working as a cashier and front manager for a local grocery and variety store and had been there for many years. I liked my job, but it had always been my dream to go to college because I always loved school and earned pretty good grades too. At this time in my life I was married and had a son so I knew that an education had to be delayed. I felt that traveling to Springfield or maybe Columbia was not going to be possible because it would take too much away from my family.

Then I read the local paper one day and saw an article about Columbia College coming to the Lake area. I was really excited and called my niece, Gayla Piggott, and we made a pact to go see about it together and give each other moral support.

We started classes in the first course offered at the Lake campus in Sept. 1990. We both loved it from the beginning and were quite pleased that we were excelling too. I worked during the day and went to school at night for two years. Then Dr. Keeney approached me to ask if I might want to apply for a position opening in the office. I was thrilled and began to work in the office as an administrative assistant.

Lake campus director Dr. John Keeney and
assistant director Cathy Whitfield at the
campus’ 20th Anniversary celebration in October.
After completing my bachelor’s degree in business administration, I knew I wanted to continue my education and become the teacher that I always desired to be. With my supervisor and Lake campus director, Dr. Keeney’s, mentorship and the support of my wonderful husband, Dean, I continued to the position that I hold today as assistant director and adjunct instructor at the local campus as well as the Online Campus.

Click on this link to view a video featuring various Columbia College–Lake of the Ozarks faculty and staff.

Dean and Cathy Whitfield enjoy the
2010 Lake Regional Hospital Ball.