BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Kandy Page and Tammy Odom of Mena, are two shining examples of what you can do when you practice drive and determination. Both are graduates of Rich Mountain Community College (RMCC) and other institutions of higher learning, and both represent the equation that this nation was built upon – dedication and hard work equals success.
Kandy Page was born in Chicago, but later moved to Wisconsin where she graduated from high school in 1986. Her mother had moved to Mena and she came here for a summer job while visiting. As life would have it, she stayed and went to work at Aalf’s Factory on Highway 71 North. She stayed there for 14 years, and it was there that she met her best friend, Tammy Odom.
The two ladies stayed with Aalfs until it closed, and at that point they both decided to pursue a higher education and attend Rich Mountain Community College. Like Odom, Page attended two years there and graduated in 2003. During that time she was married.
Tammy Odom was born in Mena but grew up in Texas – her father was in the gas field business. The family moved to Clarksville Arkansas and she graduated high school there in 1986. After she graduated high school, the family moved back to Mena, but Odom lived in Van Buren for about eight years. She returned to Mena in 1994 with her husband, Daniel. It was then that she went to work at Aalfs, and met Page.
“When Aalfs closed Kandy and I discussed our situation and decided to take advantage of the schooling our unemployment offered,” Tammy said. “Basically, we simply went to the registration, looked at the list of opportunities and chose Information Technology (computers).”
Both ladies went on to receive Associate degrees at RMCC, and from there they attended The University of Arkansas in Fort Smith.
“I was terrified at first of this higher education leap I was making, but discovered I loved it,” Odom said. “I worked hard, stayed with the program, and graduated with Kandy two years later at the U of A.
Kandy Page said the choice of computer technology was somewhat of an accidental thing, put it proved to be perfect for her.
“After graduating from The University of Arkansas I went to work as a computer tech for RMCC – I was the person they called when something broke,” she explained. “I did that for three years before starting on my Masters degree. While I did my regular job I filled in for some of the instructors and taught Workforce classes. I completed my Masters in 2006.
“I had decided I wanted to give something back to Dr. Phillip Wilson and RMCC, both of which had been instrumental in my life and Tammy’s,” she continued. “They had encouraged me, and Tammy to become more – and I wanted to do the same for others.”
Page eventually received a teaching position and transferred to a teaching role in Computer Technology.
While and after attending college at Fort Smith, Tammy Odom worked as an office manager at Four Seasons Realty in Mena, and when a job at the college came available with Career Pathways, she took that in 2009, and both ladies became an integral part of the college that had given them so much.
“I love what I’m doing now, and I’m so proud to have accomplished what I have,” Odom said. “I’m the first person in my family to have graduated from college. If I was to say something to other people considering this same ‘leap of faith,’ I would say don’t be afraid to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves, and be willing to make the effort to make yourself more, because the rewards can be great!”
Kandy Page, along with her friend, has also become a wonderful example of what you can do with drive and determination, and as an instructor at her college she encourages all of those she touches to move forward in life.
“It’s incredibly rewarding when you show someone that ‘they can’ when they thought ‘they couldn’t’, and I’m both excited and thankful that I’m now in a position to do this,” Page added. “It’s all been a wonderful experience.”