Kathleen Stockmier enrolled as a journalism student at North Lake College as a 32-year-old mother of two. She had no idea the connection would last a lifetime. A successful career as a TV and print reporter led Kathleen back to North Lake, where she became Student Publications Manager in 1997. Seventeen years and 456 state and national awards into her tenure, NLC’s student journalists are still learning from Stockmier’s leadership.
In her role as publications manager, Kathleen supervises the college newspaper, the News-Register, and literary magazine, Duck Soup. She keeps students organized and deadline-focused, helps talented writers adapt to newspaper style, encourages their work, and offers advice.
Stockmier’s experience as a journalist helps her mentor students. When reporters are nervous about an interview, she might remind them fear happens to everyone: given a chance to talk with Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor, “I was so star-struck I did not hear a word she said.”
But journalism isn’t just about reporting. “We have two sayings in the newsroom,” Kathleen explains: “Every good journalist knows his neighbor, and a newspaper always gives back to the community it serves.”
Using News-Register advertising revenue, the Journalism club began the annual charity campaign Santa Bucks in 2002. Staff, students, and faculty donate clothing, housewares, food, and other necessities, and then students buy them using “Santa Bucks.” “Each student receives $30 in bucks,” Kathleen explains, “and every item is one buck, except for food, which is three for a buck.”
The Santa Bucks program became so popular that Stockmier helped her journalists open a permanent year-round store, the Blazer Student Store. Students can trade items, buy them, win them as prizes, or even “earn them in the classroom.” Since the store opened in 2011, it has helped about 9,000 customers.
“We realized that we needed to have some kind of outreach for students every day,” Stockmier says. At North Lake, she adds, “it’s easy to give back to the community we serve.”
Under Kathleen’s supervision the News-Register has won hundreds of awards for excellence. She has been honored with a few awards herself, including the 2007-2008 Student Development Leadership Award, conferred by the Dallas County Community College District, and North Lake’s 2014 Professional Support Staff Employee of the Year.
Between watching over future reporters, supervising college publications, founding an annual magazine for new students, and running the student Journalism Club, the 2014 Employee of the Year keeps busy. The role is certainly not what she imagined when she signed up for her first NLC journalism class. But she likes it that way. Ultimately, Kathleen Stockmier says, “I am where I am supposed to be in my life.” Her students and colleagues gratefully agree.