Carol Patrice Surette Niekrasz graduated from Marian High in Framingham, Massachusetts. She enrolled in Cardinal Cushing College declaring an English Literature/Mathematics major. Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities tells us that Carol was Class President, Interclass President, Chess Club President, and a member of the Math Club; clearly indicating she was committed to serving others.
After marrying her husband Ed in May 1969, Carol had two children David and John. Dedicated to her family, Carol decided to be a full time mother encouraging her sons’ studies, soccer participation and musical development. And in 1974, the Niekrasz’s left their home in Massachusetts and headed for San Diego, California and a new beginning.
Enrolled at Southwestern Community College, Carol was also a student worker in the Arts Department. Enjoying the work, she soon applied in 1988 for the position of Clerical Assistant I in the Business Division under Dean Sherrill Amador. Her career was off and running. Seeking to move up the pay scale after working a few years in one of the largest divisions on campus, Carol submitted the required paperwork to reclassify to Clerical Assist II under new Dean Tony Thele. Her promotion was granted and Carol enjoyed working with its faculty and its many students.
In 1992, Carol applied to a Clerical III position in the Physical Education and Athletics Division to work exclusively in athletics under Dean Dr. Henry Pugh following another “campus reorganization.” She was his first choice. In 1993, Dr. Pugh wrote in Carol’s evaluation that “Ms. Niekrasz’s main strengths are her intelligence, concentration, and ability to learn and function professionally in all tasks that she undertakes.” Carol also worked alongside beloved Physical Education Secretary Shirlee Bonhag. They were true partners in crime and shared a love for the students, staff and See’s Candy. Rumor is that they could be easily bribed; reality was they seldom shared.
In 1996, new Dean John Cosentino recognized Carol’s immense work ethic by stating, “Carol produces a higher quality of work than expected and is very attentive to deatails.” In fact Carol’s job was never ending. She processed student athletic eligibility for 18 teams in three different sports seasons every year, often counseling them to stay in school, work hard, set goals and continue their education. Out of area athletes constantly knocked on her door while faculty asked for her advice. She also helped manage the athletics budget and team trust accounts, documented and wrote the annual gender equity report, and served concurrently as the Pacific Coast Conference Secretary working with the PCC Commissioner. Needless to say, Carol was reclassified once again to Secretary I. Soon after, she deservingly earned Classified Employee of the Quarter where she designed her favorite sandwich but treasured he designated parking spot.
After “training” three nine new deans, (Turner, Erdahl, Davis), Carol’s 22 years at Southwestern came to an end when she retired in 2009. She and Ed are now proud grandparents to Quinn and Isla. Busy as usual, she works in her beautiful garden and is currently involved in renovating her kitchen.
Carol Niekrasz, for the many hours you worked on behalf of our student athletes, for your loyalty and dedication to athletics, and your support of faculty and staff, Southwestern College is honored to welcome you to the 2011 Athletic Hall of Fame.