You don’t drive 75 miles to get to a job you don’t like – a job you don’t believe in, a job you don’t absolutely love. You have to get something special out of your work to drive that far – and you must provide something just as special once you get there.
And Clara Hodges certainly does. Her commute from her home in Walterboro is just the start: Once on campus, she applies that same commitment, that “whatever it takes” attitude, to everything she does.
“I love my job and I love the College, so I come to work and do my best,” says the administrative assistant to the provost. “I take on the day’s tasks and do whatever is needed, and I don’t like to leave before I know everything is taken care of. That’s my job security.”
It’s safe to say that Hodges’ job is secure. In her 23 years at the College, she has proven her dedication to and pride in not only her job, but also her office and the greater campus community.
“Our office is the backbone of the academic divisions. We have a very important role on campus, and I am very proud to be a part of that,” Hodges says. “I feel that anything that goes out of academic affairs is a reflection on me.”
And this extends beyond the confines of her own office: Hodges considers herself a representative of the College as a whole.
“I see my role as a pillar or post on campus for the people who are looking for information about the College. I see myself as a source of information both off and on campus,” she says. “My mom has a habit of telling people, ‘If you want to know anything about the College of Charleston, ask Clara – she knows everything there is about it.’ And I try to live up to that. I try to be a wealth of information. I take pride in my knowledge of the College. So I’m always trying to learn. And I try to make the College better than it already is.”
And, ask any of the thousands of people she works with on any given day, and they’ll tell you that Hodges and her helpful can-do approach make the College a better place.
“I really appreciate the people I work with. I form so many relationships with people on and off campus, so customer service is the key,” she says. “You have to learn how to listen. You have to learn how to observe. You have to learn to think about a resolution. And, if you don’t have a resolution, you have to figure out how can you get that issue resolved. If you can’t deal with the many facets of personality here – on and off campus – you can’t do this job.”
Fortunately, Hodges is what they call a people person.
“I love to talk. I enjoy meeting people. I just like to know people’s backgrounds and who they are. I like to extend my hand and put a face with the name,” she says, adding with a laugh: “Sometimes I think of myself as Lucy (from Peanuts) with her psychiatry booth. People just love to talk to me. And it’s a wonderful feeling that they think enough of me to call and ask me my opinion. I really just like helping people – that makes me so happy. It warms my heart.”
And there it is: that special thing that makes those 75 miles worth all the traffic, all the gas and all the time spent on the road. Sure, Hodges loves her job, takes pride in her workplace. But, ultimately, it’s that heartwarming feeling that drives her to campus every single day.
This story originally appeared in the fall 2014 issue of Portico, the College’s employee newsletter.