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Career Spotlight: Celiwe Russell

Celiwe Russell, Career Development

Celiwe Russell, Career Development

Please provide a bio about you. Include your name, what you studied, where you attended school and campus, and what year you graduated. Tell us anything here you'd like us to know about you!

Celiwe Jones attended the Allegheny Campus of CCAC and majored in Liberal Arts and Sociology. She planned to go on for a four-year degree. After graduating from CCAC in 1998, Celiwe transferred to the University of Pittsburgh's School of Social Work. She graduated from Pitt with the Class of 2000.


How did you choose your major? What motivated you to choose that field/profession?

Initially, I was a psychology major. I wanted to study & understand what made individuals behave the way they did & the factors attributed to it. As I began to study sociology, I quickly began to realize that Macro factors were just as important to studying human behaviors as the micro. I decided that the social work degree would enable me to become more job-ready and provide more real-world experiences for me, as opposed to obtaining a graduate degree with no relevant work experience.


What did you enjoy about attending CCAC? Do you have any memorable moment to share?

I appreciated being able to take advantage of quality post-secondary education (at a fraction of the cost) and receiving the college experience without having to physically reside on a college campus. My most memorable moment would have to be attending classes for the first time as a freshman on campus. The entire concept of having complete and total independence was a foreign concept to me. I learned very quickly that you get out of higher ed whatever you put into to it and that independence is not only encouraged, but necessary!


How involved were you at CCAC? For instance, did your studies take you to other countries? Did you have internships or Co-Ops? Clinicals and/or practicums? Were you a part of any clubs, sports, or extracurriculars?

I was a non-traditional student with external responsibilities, so this did not leave much time for extra-curricular activities. Since I had a clear vision of my goals and knew that I would be in pursuit of my Bachelor's degree, I concentrated all of my efforts on completing classes that would benefit my (future) program of study.


Did any of these experiences lead you into realizing your passions for work and career? If so, how?

Yes, every class that I completed and passed successfully meant that I was 1 more step closer to my long-term goals. I knew that I wanted a career where I could be a help or resource to other people. This is my personality, and it was only fitting that I would want to do that as my career.


What (transferable) skills did you gain that you could take into a workplace?

There were so many that I could think of, but the most memorable transferrable skill that I obtained (almost in its entirety) would have to be my verbal communication skills. I remember way back to taking my first Oral Communications Class at Allegheny Campus with Professor Ricky Burgess. This was long before he became a city council member. Prior to taking the class, I was extremely shy, nervous, and avoided situations that would require me to speak publicly IN ANY CAPACITY. I remember asking why every major had to take that course, but at the conclusion I understood why . . . That class took away my public speaking fears, and gave me the confidence to be able to properly research and express myself verbally and also how to engage my audience. Professor Burgess was phenomenal! I ended up earning an A in that class.


What are you doing now? What are you hoping to do next? What are your ultimate professional goals?

I am currently employed at the University of Pittsburgh in HR doing Workforce/Career Development with the Community Engagement Centers. I have held many positions in this field and it is truly my passion! Perhaps one day I may decide to pursue my PHD in Industrial Psychology. 


What advice do you have for students who are considering the idea of taking classes at CCAC? 

First and foremost, be absolutely certain that you are ready to embark upon this journey. It takes a tremendous amount of dedication, discipline, and sacrifice! And if you decide that you are not ready, that's ok. Take that step in your own time, not anyone else's. 


Who inspires you and why? Do you have any mentors or people of influence in your life?

I would say my mom. Growing up I remember her either working 2 jobs or going to school and working. She always took advantage of any free programs & certificates that would give her marketable skills that she could apply in the workplace. And just about every credential she earned was from CCAC!


Is there anything else you would like us to know?

It amazes me to think that my diverse career path, which has taken me to so many places, all began with my education at CCAC. From my AA in Liberal Arts, to my BA in Social Work, to my MA in Business Degree(s); It all began with CCAC!