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Timing is everything. Some people may call it luck when good things happen in a person’s life. Others may call it being in the right place at the right time. Andrea Rangel calls it a blessing.
For the past 40 years, Rangel has been a stable participant in South Plains College’s success. Since joining the staff in 1974, she has displayed a strong work ethic that has opened the doors to promotions time after time. The road traveled by Rangel began when she completed a graduate follow-up survey.
“After graduation, I received a survey and among the questions asked if you were employed in your area of studies,” she said. “I was working fulltime in a temporary position with the City of Levelland in a work-study secretarial position. I wrote that my position would end on Aug. 31.”
Through luck or divine intervention, the survey landed on the desk of SPC Administrator William “Hi” Walker whose own secretary was leaving on Aug. 30. He reviewed the survey and made a few calls to former instructors of Rangel and the City of Levelland. He knew that he wanted Rangel for the job. He called her and offered her the position.
“I told him I had to talk to my father about it because at that time, I was still living at home,” Rangel said. “My dad thought that commuting from Brownfield to Levelland over the summer to work for the City was a temporary thing. He told me ‘no’ that I could not accept the job at SPC, and I needed to find a job in Brownfield.”
Rangel went on to say that with the support of her mother, the two were able to persuade her father to allow her to accept the job. On Sept. 3, Rangel was hired. She thrived at SPC and in 1976 she married her husband, Joe. Two years later, the couple decided to move to Lubbock.
“I thought that I would have to find a job in Lubbock but it just so happened that I was offered a position as the Financial Aid and Veteran Affairs advisor for the new Lubbock campus that was opening in fall 1978,” she said.
Three years later, Rangel was promoted to Assistant to the Registrar for the Lubbock campus, a position she held from 1981 to 1990. She returned to the Levelland campus in the summer of 1990 as the Assistant Registrar under Bobby James, Dean of Admissions and Registrar. Two years later, she was promoted to Registrar, when James was named Dean of Admissions and Records. She was the first female Registrar in the history of South Plains College, and she stayed in this position until 1998.
In the summer 1998, Bobby James was named Vice President for Student Affairs, and Rangel was promoted to Dean of Admissions and Registrar. In 2000 the position was split to Dean of Admissions and Records, and Registrar. She is marking her 14th year as the Dean of Admissions and Records.
“I have never applied for any of my positions in my career at SPC,” Rangel said. “When I first started here, I thought that I would try this for a little while. I never dreamed I’d be here 40 years.
“When I received my 10 year award, I thought this is a long time,” she said. “With my 20 year award, I thought this is a really long time.”
Rangel has served under three presid
ents, Dr. Thomas Baker, Dr. Gary McDaniel and Dr. Kelvin Sharp.
“I have seen a lot of positive changes and growth,” she said. “I have embraced the changes, which have occurred over the years because I know that change happens not only for the betterment of our institution, but most importantly, for the success of our students. A lot of good things come out of SPC for everyone.”
Rangel said the secret to her success at SPC is no secret at all, she loves her job.
“I love my job, and I welcome every opportunity that each day brings,” she said. “I know that this is where I should be, and I thrive on being able to help students – and their parents – from the beginning with the admission process, to the end-graduation.”
Rangel said her biggest challenge throughout the years has been learning and working with technology. She remembers when the graduation chart was drawn by hand. That task is now completed by a software system that allows her to arrange everything including the stage and the chairs.
“It’s not about just making my job easier, but it’s also about what is best for our students,” she said.
Rangel credits Lunette Dickson, Dianne Bridges, Margaret Ingraham and Dr. Jim Cooper for being her mentors at SPC. Dickson served as chairperson of the Business Administration Department from 1976 to 1992. Bridges was the chairperson of Business Administration from 1993 to 1998. Ingraham was the recipient of the 1984 Lubbock Campus Excellence in Teaching Award. Cooper taught grammar, rhetoric, literature and philosophy for 17 years.
“I can sincerely say that I owe my success not only to my SPC professors for believing in me and providing a quality education, but also to some wonderful colleagues, for their mentorship,” she said. “By the same token, I hope that I have mentored other employees.”
Although there were three occasions when Rangel was being wooed to other job opportunities, she said she chose to stay at SPC.
“South Plains College has been like a second family throughout my life,” she said. “I’ve raised my children while working at South Plains, and I have enjoyed what I do here. I want to be that person who helps inspire someone to succeed in life. Every student is a blank canvas. And, as long as I can help students to overcome the obstacles in life, I will keep doing this.”
Rangel was born in Robstown and grew up in Brownfield. She is the third oldest of 10 children, and a first-generation college student and the first one to graduate from college in her family. Four of her siblings as well as nieces and nephews also have graduated from South Plains College.
“Having a caring attitude for our students, as well as parents, is important to me,” she said. “And, if I need to interpret admissions information in Spanish to the parents, I do so willingly.
“My hope is to inspire students and emphasis to them the importance of obtaining a higher education degree, just as I was inspired one day by an individual, and my SPC professors,” she said.
Rangel and her husband, Joe, have been married for 37 years. They have two sons, Jon and Raquel and Jeffrey, both live in the Dallas area. Jon and Raquel have two daughters – Alejandra, 8, and Lilianna, 5.
Rangel holds two associate degrees from SPC – an Associate in Applied Science in Secretarial Studies and an Associate of Science – and a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Texas Tech University. She also did graduate studies at Texas Tech. She received the 2003 Hispanic Lubbock Scholarship Pageant’s Woman of Distinction award and the Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers award.