The root beer float table was mobbed.
Students of all ages and backgrounds had come to claim their free float as part of Jump Start, a week of activities marking the beginning of each term organized by new Student Activities Coordinator Taran Underdal.
Underdal stood on one side of the table offering the floats, but something else as well—a smile and a genuine welcome back for each student she met.
“She puts her heart and soul into it,” said Gordon Price, director of student life and Underdal’s boss.
Underdal’s position as Student Activities Coordinator, which was created last year, means she is responsible for events on campus like Jump-Start Week, the Asian Pacific Islander Festival and the up and coming Grad Fair. Underdal is also the advisor to the Associated Students of Central Oregon Community College.
Underdall began the new position in August 2010 and with the campus population growing at record rates her boss Price said, “Taran’s position comes with perfect timing,”
Price used to manage Underdal’s new duties, but had an array of other responsibilities that made it difficult to focus on student activities including acting as director of student life, overseeing Residence Life, managing student conduct and supervising Campus Center duties.
Underdal moved to the position after her job as admissions advisor/recruiter, a position she had been working since June 2006. Her new position is a promotion and earns her somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000-$45,000 per year.
According to Salary.com , the national average for the position is $56,000.
Price said this position is a “natural direction” for Taren given her previous work on campus in admissions, advising and recruiting and he is happy to
see someone so devoted to events for benefit of the student body in the position. Her coworkers are also pleased with her work.
“Taran is ambitious and well organized and has really added to campus climate,” said Justine Conner, Native American Program Coordinator.
Conner who attended the Jump Start/Mc Menamins movie event, said “It was packed and everyone was enjoying themselves so much.”
Underdal, who is originally from Conrad, Montana, is also working on her master’s at OSU-Cascades Campus in school counseling and sees herself working with students from a career standpoint.
She is happy with her coworkers in the Student Life Department and said they are amazing and wonderful to work with.
Underdal said it can be an emotionally hard job, and in particular her relationship with ASCOCC has presented challenges.
But for someone passionate about her work, it is something to be expected, she said.
“I’m an utter optimist,” she said. “(I like) to see what is possible in anything and anyone.”
For more information of upcoming events and activities visit;
http://studentlife.cocc.edu or Student Life board in Campus Center.