As an Adult Home Specialist with the Richmond County Department of Social Services, Julie Cagle of Rockingham monitors the three adult care homes in the county to assure they comply with state regulations and investigates complaints against the facilities should any arise. She is completing her first year in the position and likes the challenges it presents.
“When someone needs to reside in an assisted living setting, he may also need someone to be his voice at some point in time. I like serving in that role when an advocate is needed to speak for him,” she said.
Over the past 18 years, Cagle has worked her way up through positions with the Richmond County Health Department and the Department of Social Services. She said Richmond Community College was with her all of the way.
“I went to RCC right out of high school, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to study. I decided to major in what is now Office Administration. At first, it was hard to find a job because I was either overqualified or didn’t have any experience. Once I found a job as a receptionist in a medical setting, another job became available with the Health Department in the WIC Program. I became a process assistant in 1993,” she said.
She worked for two years as a WorkFirst Employment Services secretary and later for one year as a caseworker in a program that assisted parents with childcare costs. Her love of helping others led her to the Health Department where she spent nine years as the Health Check Coordinator.
“Although I was blessed with a good job with benefits, I always wanted to go back to school. My supervisors encouraged and supported me, so I did. I returned to RCC in 2006, finished my associate in arts degree in 2008, and transferred to UNCP’s sociology program. Due to a partnership between RCC and UNCP, I was able to take all of my UNCP classes at night on RCC’s campus or online. It was so convenient. I finished in 2009 and needed the degree to apply for this job,” she said.
Cagle said the transition between RCC and UNCP was extremely smooth for two reasons: the quality of instruction at RCC and the location of UNCP Campus Administrative Coordinator Julie Layne on the RCC campus.
“Julie serves as a liaison between the two schools and is such a jewel. She helped me select my classes and was right there whenever I needed something. I don’t know what I expected when I moved from RCC classes to UNCP, but I was prepared. RCC professors expect college-level work from you, so it wasn’t any harder in my UNCP courses. I continued to utilize the RCC library and other services. It’s a wonderful service to the community,” she said.
Balancing work, college, and personal relationships is not easy, but Cagle did manage to earn a place on the honor’s lists of both RCC and UNCP.
“You definitely have to prioritize your time and stick to a schedule. After working an eight-hour day, you can be in class until 10 p.m. and then have homework. My mom, boyfriend, family and friends were understanding and supportive. I saw a picture of myself the semester I took 15 hours so I could finish. I looked exhausted. Was it worth it? Would I do it again? Absolutely!” she said with a smile.
Looking back over time, she said she wishes she had gone back to RCC sooner so she could be further along in her career. The thought of getting her master’s degree isn’t out of the question.
“My getting an education was important to my parents. When I graduated high school, I wasn’t ready to leave home. If you have a community college in your hometown, why not start your educational journey there? RCC has professors who care about you and don’t look at you like a number in a roll book. I think people in Richmond and Scotland counties have a perfect place to begin their college careers right here,” she said.
Anyone interested in enrolling for fall semester is encouraged to call 410-1730 now.