Heidi Paul / Roundup
Having been hired only a month ago, Joanna Zimring Towne may be the new girl on the block in the Pierce College Counseling Center, but she brings an impressive combination of resume and experience.
Zimring Towne, born in Denver, moved to the Los Angeles area as a young girl and graduated Agoura High School in 1995. She earned a bachelor’s in theater and drama in 1997at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, then returned home where she began working in youth employment programs.
But she found government programs “were more concerned with numbers than results. I wanted to design programs to be more flexible. You can’t be rigid when it comes to kids.”
So in 2005, Zimring Towne went back to school at University of Southern California, earning concurrent master’s degrees in Social Work and Public Administration in 2007. That led to a job as career program manager in the Los Angeles branch of POSSE, a New York-based college scholarship access program.
“POSSE was a very positive experience. We matched students to appropriate scholarships and worked closely with the universities. From that I developed a desire to work in higher education,” she said.
“When I saw the posting for the job at Pierce it was like reading my resume. I was really excited to be able to combine my work experience and counseling training in one job.”
She applied and began at Pierce in January of this year.
Fellow counselor Sheldon Roth was on the hiring committee.
“We had over a hundred applicants and she stood out. Her strengths are a great systems approach and a larger vision for our Career Center which I think will put Pierce on the map,” he said.
One of Zimring Towne’s goals when the Career Center moves into larger quarters next fall is to have faculty integrate the center into course assignments so students can learn about jobs available in that field. The center is also planning a “Major Fair” next fall to help students plan their career goals. She cited how the new qualification to declare a major for an associate of arts is making it more difficult for students to plan their educational paths.
“Education and information are great equalizers,” Zimring Towne said. “If I had one piece of advice to students, it would be come to the counseling and career centers. There is so much information to know and so many choices to make. Even if all you have is a plan to make a plan, that’s still a plan and we can help you out.”