Go Beyond What Is Expected

Chapter 1 MCC: Goal Setting (Charting Your Future)

Johnette McKown, McLennan Community College President

McLennan Community College President Johnette McKown believes in pouring herself into everything she does. “I have always believed in doing more than was requested — not expecting compensation for the extra,” she said. “I love to look at the details and make sure I have prepared well.”

McKown was selected as MCC’s third president in February 2009. McKown moved to Waco twenty years earlier to accept the position of vice president of business services when her husband’s chronic illness became active. “God showed me I needed to step out of my comfort zone to be better prepared to support my family,” she said.

McKown has had a long and successful career in education. Before coming to MCC, she worked at Paris Junior College for 14 years as an English instructor, director of Business Operations, registrar, and faculty advisor to the Baptist Student Ministry among other positions. In her more than 20 years at MCC, McKown has served as vice president of Business Services and as executive vice president. She also developed the Business and Finance in Higher Education for Baylor University’s Scholars of Practice curriculum and taught the course for ten years.

McKown initially wanted to become a librarian but ended up studying English at Louisiana College. “I have always enjoyed grammar and writing as well as reading literature. It just seemed natural for me,” she said. McKown received her M.Ed. in Reading and Community College Education and her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas A&M Commerce. She also holds an associate degree from Paris Junior College.

“The history of my career has been that I have always worked hard at what I have done to be the very best I can be,” McKown said. “I have realized that education is the key to advancement along with integrity, honesty, commitment, and hard work.”

McKown arrives at work between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. to prepare for the day and respond to emails. Meetings with various faculty, students, and administrators, campus visits, and observation of school construction sites are all daily activities for McKown. In the evenings, she attends sporting events, theatrical performances, and banquets. She also volunteers with the Christian Women’s Job Corp and the Gospel Cafe. “I think taking time to volunteer in the community is something that taught me the importance of being a well-rounded person,” McKown said.

How does McKown successfully manage and accomplish all of these tasks? Throughout her career and volunteer experiences, she has learned what it takes to become a successful student and individual. Goal-setting, planning ahead, and building meaningful relationships are of the utmost importance.

Students need to set three types of goals pertaining to their personal life, education, and future career, McKown said. “Successful students set goals; they don’t goof off very often; they care about others; they follow the rules,” she said. Short-term goals are important in reaching a long-term goal.

In order to be successful and complete tasks, students need to plan ahead. McKown acknowledged that nothing usually happens or gets accomplished without planning, small steps, and patience. “I have often told employees or students to ask themselves, ‘Where will I be if I don’t start now?’ in a goal that may seem insurmountable at the time,” she said.

As a life-time Girl Scout, McKown has also learned valuable lessons about teamwork and the importance of relationships. She keeps in contact and continues to reunite with several of her Girl Scout friends. McKown said developing and maintaining relationships is crucial. She also said it’s essential for students to get to know their professors because they can be valuable mentors and assets in networking to find a job.

Encouraging and getting acquainted with fellow employees and peers is important both in the college setting and in the workplace. “By caring about people, I have been able to receive loyalty and support from them,” she said. “By allowing others to be part of the decision-making process, I have benefited from their being engaged and from their doing outstanding work.”