Nancy Macy Wins Classified Staff of the Year Award
Nancy Macy’s friendly assistance and calming demeanor have dispelled many students’ test anxiety over the years. As Centralia College's Testing Center Program Assistant, her positive attitude is a powerful salve during an often vulnerable time. How does she stay so positive and helpful? We sat down with her to find out for ourselves.
Growing up, Macy lived with her family in Scotland and Alaska before settling permanently in California’s Napa Valley. Multiple moves taught Macy how to make friends quickly. “We had to travel from school to school,” she recalled. “If you couldn’t speak up and make friends, you’d isolate yourself.”
Naturally engaging and gregarious, Macy became a cosmetologist in California, where she enjoyed connecting with clients. The job cultivated her natural gifts for small talk and customer service.
Next she moved to Seattle to work in the travel industry. She taught at a travel school, worked for a travel agency and for Alaska Airlines. She took a position with a Seattle law firm, where she was an in-house travel agent, arranging travel for more than 300 attorneys across seven offices worldwide. Her office was located in a downtown high-rise with a picture window view of the Space Needle.
Macy gave up her travel agency position to move from Seattle to Edgewood with her husband Keith and their children. On their one-acre plot, they raised sheep, chickens, and Macy’s goats. When their children were young, the couple decided to swap their semi-urban life for a larger plot of land in a more rural setting. They found the ideal location in Centralia 17 years ago. “It’s a great community of people,” Macy said.
Today, their farm is home to a herd of beef cattle, three pigs during the winter, a Yorkie, two well-trained Border Collies, two cats, and a pet goat, Skittles.
The couple often spends all weekend catching up but Macy wouldn’t have it any other way. “We work hard,” she said. “The lady we bought the farm from told us, ‘Remember, you run the farm, don’t let the farm run you.’”
Education Meets Customer Service
Macy came to Centralia College as a part-time hourly employee before joining the Testing Center six years ago. “It’s fun and the people are really nice,” she said. “I like the atmosphere and it’s a gorgeous campus.”
Her strong interpersonal skills and innate kindness make her a perfect fit for the job, and she recently received the Classified Staff of the Year award. “What is most striking is [Nancy Macy’s] consistency and commitment to the college,” said Testing Center Program Manager Melissa Hahn. “Her primary assignment is to proctor tests, yet most who know or have worked with Nancy are well aware that she goes above and beyond. Our department deals with anxious students who have been scared off from schooling, hesitant community members who are confused about how to begin, high level executives needing certification, and staff and faculty on campus who need the type of support unique to our area. Nancy has a unique and gentle approach to everyone who comes in.”
When asked about her philosophy, Macy said, “I just try to give them more information and make them feel welcome. I want to treat them the way I’d want someone to treat my child. I don’t really have a philosophy, just that customer service I’ve had forever, in jobs I’ve always done.”
Macy not only helps students overcome their fears, she also encourages them to push further. When a couple of young men in their early 20s completed their GEDs, she noticed their high scores. “I told them, ‘You’re too smart not to go to college,’” she recalled. “When they started getting their confidence, they just shone.”
One woman came in, in tears, to complete a placement test. She was in her late 40s, her husband had recently passed away, and she needed to figure out how to make it on her own. Complicating matters, she was an immigrant navigating a sometimes challenging American system on her own. Macy encouraged her to keep going. “She went from there to basic classes, to graduating with her bachelor’s in business,” she recalled with a smile.
Macy’s authentic empathy and true concern for the students and community members she serves is inspiring. Beyond that, chatting with her is simply delightful. The next time you’re in the Testing Center, be sure to stop by and say hello.