She may not have been crowned “Miss RTI” when she was a student, but Jennipher Love of Rockingham is certainly “Miss RCC” to thousands of people in Richmond and Scotland counties.
A recruiter for Richmond Community College for 27 years, she has spoken to innumerable high school English classes, soothed the nerves of industry workers just informed their jobs have disappeared, handed out pens and brochures at street fairs, and met with third shift employees during their breaks to inform them of what RCC has to offer.
“You can’t go anywhere without someone saying, ‘Hey, Ms. Love!,’” said coworker Anne Morris, RCC Director of Public Information. “Once, we stopped at a crossroads south of Bolton at a convenience store. There were cornfields and pine forests on the other three corners. We were in the middle of nowhere. A little girl pulls up in a pickup and yells, ‘Hey, I know you! You’re Ms. Love!’ You’re never incognito with her — she knows everybody.”
Love and Morris have worked closely through the years. Love has always had her finger on the pulse of her audience and directed Morris on what type of promotional materials were needed to assist her in her job.
“I am better at my job because of the input Jennipher has given me through the years. People are going to miss her smiling face when she retires (this month),” said Morris.
Love said she is not retiring, but simply changing jobs and shifting focus. She plans to home school her grandson and spend more time with her family. She is going to miss being out in the public and seeing people who enrolled at RCC because of the encouragement she provided.
Through the years, Love shared her personal story with prospective students for encouragement. She quit high school, married, and started a family. When the marriage dissolved, she worked in a mill to provide for her daughter. She earned her GED and later a General Office Technology degree at what was then Richmond Technical Institute. While working retail, she decided to pursue her desire to become a teacher and enrolled at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke to earn her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education with a minor in special education.
“I taught in public schools for three-and-a-half years and earned my master’s degree from UNC-Charlotte before joining what was then Richmond Technical Institute in 1980. I wanted to be there because of what it had done for me,” said Love, who became the first reading teacher in the Personal Achievement Curriculum.
She developed courses for four levels of reading and was a strong advocate for the courses, which prepared students for college-level reading. She attended Appalachian State University and earned a Developmental Reading Specialist certification. The courses she established have evolved over the years and remain critical in preparing students for the rigors of college.
“After five years, ambition took me to the recruiter’s job. I actually wanted to become the vice president for instruction and develop curriculum programs. I was advised to take another position to get more experience and a greater overview of how the college operated,” said Love.
She took the recruiter position and made it her own. Wherever there were people, there was Love. She assisted in the organization of industrial fairs that showcased jobs available in the community and the education RCC provided that prepared people for those jobs. She began visiting high school English classes teaching study skills, time and stress management, and college preparation tips. High school students enrolled at RCC through a dual enrollment agreement counted on her to help them select appropriate courses and handle the paperwork.
What happened on the road to the vice presidency?
“I started my doctorate and my dad had a stroke. It was more important to care for him than pursue the degree. Then, I went through a leadership program exercise that had us look at our jobs and see where we wanted to be. I realized I was totally happy where I was. The job went along with my Christian life of helping others. I forgot about moving up within the ranks.”
Love moved up in the hearts of a growing number of people through the years. She finds herself working with the children and grandchildren of former students. She has relished the job and the challenges that accompanied it.
“RCC is an excellent community college, but the perception when I started this job was that Sandhills Community College was better. Through the years it has been very gratifying to see we have changed our image and have many students right out of high school selecting RCC as their first choice of college. Most students attending Sandhills now do so because they may offer a program we do not have,” said Love.
The hardest part of her job was being part of the state’s Rapid Response Team visiting industries that were closing or laying off a large percentage of employees.
“I talked with people who worked all of their lives at a job and were facing the loss of their livelihood. They were scared and brokenhearted. However, it has been incredibly rewarding to see them graduate or to find them on a new job where they seem totally happy and fulfilled,” she said.
Love’s contributions to the growth of the college are well known and appreciated. The overflowing parking lots are not the result of special events, but the result of record enrollment.
“Jennipher has touched the lives of many, many students and has represented our college to generations of families in our community,” said RCC President Dale McInnis. “I could always count on her, and I will miss her deeply.”
Vice President of Student Services Saundra Richardson agreed with McInnis on how much Love will be missed.
“She provided support, assistance, guidance, and resources for potential students to meet their higher education aspirations,” said Richardson. “She educated the community about RCC and its programs and benefits through personal contact and mailings. As director of recruiting, it was her job to connect you with the college, create awareness, and generate excitement about our programs. She did it all with a desire to help others reach their goals in life. Hers will be big shoes to fill.”