Kay Gasson, A Dedicated Champion for Student Learning
By Hiedi Andersen
Described by others as a “dedicated champion,” “gentle hearted,” and “compassionate,” Kay Gasson is devoted to helping those around her.
Whether examining her over 30-year career with Woodland Community College or her nearly half-century of volunteer work, Gasson’s passion for helping others is abundantly evident and was a key factor in her selection as a Woodland Community College Foundation Founder’s Day 2018 honoree.
“Kay Gasson has been a dedicated champion for student learning, compassionately listening, comforting and advising through the years which is exemplary and enviable,” states a resolution presented at her retirement in 2009 by former Yuba Community College District Board President Alan Flory.
Gasson began working at Yuba Community College’s Woodland Campus in 1976. Just as the college grew, changed locations and evolved, so did Gasson’s jobs. She helped in student services, the book store and library, as well as coordinated public events, worked as an instructional assistant in the business lab, and served as an administration office assistant. And although her positions were often labeled “temporary” or “part-time”, her achievements at the college and in the community reach far beyond time measured by a clock.
“I loved my years at Woodland Community College,” Gasson said during a recent interview. “I enjoyed every, single job I did because I was working with students. When you are in a job that you enjoy, you just go above and beyond the call of duty oftentimes.”
Colleagues, students and friends have lauded her kindness and work ethic. In a letter to Gasson in May 1982, Harold Douglass praised Gasson’s efficient, courteous and thorough job taking care of the box office at public events at the Woodland Center.
“As usual, you did an excellent job; you are always so gracious to all of the patrons and I have a secure feeling, knowing that the money and the reports will turn out well,” Douglass wrote.
Another former coworker prepared a letter in 2002 that outlined Gasson’s achievements, dedication to students and leadership.
“Ms. Gasson is very knowledgeable about other departments and programs at (WCC) and in the local community and has been more helpful in location information and resources, as well as identifying various staff members who could be of assistance to students,” wrote Winona Miles, a learning disabilities specialist. “That atmosphere in the (Disabled Students Programs and Services) facility became very welcoming and friendly, resulting in an increasing number of students who came to utilize the services.”
A former WCC student prepared a three-page essay researching why Gasson went “the extra mile” for her and others.
“She is kind, in the sense that it doesn’t matter what time of the day you step into her lab, she always gives you a nice greeting and asks, ‘How was your weekend?’ or ‘How’s your day going so far?’” The student essay also noted that Gasson’s sincerity shone through her actions.
“It may seem that some people are like that because they are paid, so they have no other choice but to be nice to you,” the student wrote. “But with Kay, you really feel her kindness, that her words really come from the heart.”
Gasson’s heart is dedicated to helping others; guiding and encouraging women and disabled students to successfully advance their education. Her volunteer work also focuses on helping challenged individuals and groups that “motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations”. Some of her community volunteer work includes:
- 46 years involvement, a lifetime member and past president of Alpha Gamma Chapter of Omega Nu Sorority;
- 38-year-member and a past president of the Philanthropic Education Organization (PEO), a nationwide women’s organization that celebrates the advancement of women by providing scholarships, grants, awards, loans and stewardship of Cottey College in Nevada, MO;
- More than 30 years as an Emblem Club member, a women’s organization affiliated with the Elks B.P.O.E. #1299 Lodge; and
- Spent more than 1,200 hours helping the Woodland Healthcare Hospital
Auxiliary in the psychiatric ward
Gasson maintained her active work and volunteer schedule while also raising two children with her husband of 54 years, Bob. The couple live in Woodland and enjoy spending time with their daughter Linda and two grandchildren, who live in nearby Folsom.