For Online and Distance Education Administrative Associate Tamara Watts, working at DELTA keeps her close to home.
Born and raised locally, she’s always known that Raleigh is the place for her. “I’ve had lots of fun growing up in Raleigh,” she says. “It’s hard to imagine calling another place home.”
“The only time I spent away was during my undergraduate years.” She went to college at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro to complete a degree in news and broadcasting with the aspiration to produce commercials, but “shortly after my sophomore year, I knew I wanted to do more. I sought after a field that would allow me to use my creativity in a broader way.” With this shift in trajectory, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Marketing.
After completing her degree, Watts went on to gain her MBA at the University of Phoenix. “I knew that eventually I wanted to have my own event planning business, so having my MBA was a great thing.” She attended evening class once a week for over a year. “Some of the courses were hybrid, in which we went to class once a week and went over the work we completed online.”
Online learning tools like Moodle assisted her hybrid courses. Similar applications remain relevant to her position at DELTA, where she helps students enroll in online and distance education courses.
How would you describe your position to someone unfamiliar with DELTA?
“I handle the non-degree student (NDS) enrollment applications for students who are planning to take a course through distance education.”
Watts works closely with international students as they are cleared for enrollment. When it comes to working with students from around the world, she’s learned how to conquer the challenges and make sure everyone receives the help they need. “We work through language barriers and understanding the types of documentation that are required for admittance,” adding that “Working with international students is very rewarding when I’m able to successfully help them.”
She also helps students who are revisiting their education at NC State. “The students that I’ve helped to return are those who are looking to slowly get back into the groove of school by only wanting to take one class to see if they’re ready to complete their original planned degree or transfer into a new degree program.” In assisting these students, Watts helps to give them a second chance.
The second tier of her job involves making sure the Online and Distance Education website is accurate.
“I handle all the website updates for our section of the Online and Distance website, and I work to make sure that all the program pages are up-to-date.”
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
Watts spends a typical day making sure her primary goals are progressing and administration is running smoothly.
“It starts off by checking to see if we have any applications that need to be processed, and then it goes into ServiceNow — handling all the requests that come through, whether that’s an update for a website, questions about programs or issues with enrollment. It could be a number of things.”
ServiceNow is an application that helps to track IT incidents and management across NC State’s campus. For Watts, this portal helps her take care of questions and concerns that people submit.
In addition to keeping up with these requests, her day consists of responding to emails and enrolling incoming students. Enrollment is critical to student success, guaranteeing that they receive the classes they need. “If a program has contacted us and said that these students need to be placed in this class, then we actually go into MyPack Portal and enroll them into the course. There are also instances where our academic advisor has approved prerequisites for a course, and then we are able to enroll them.”
What has been your favorite experience at DELTA?
“It’s probably the very first picnic that I went to over at Pullen Park.” Watts remembers how this event welcomed her to DELTA. “I was new, like — a few weeks in new. And it was time to have the DELTA picnic.”
While interacting with people as a new employee can feel daunting, for Watts, this event was anything but. “It was getting to see everyone come together and laugh and enjoy themselves.”
When it comes to events at DELTA, Watts knows to bring her appetite. She likes to attend all the events that involve eating, specifically the Thanksgiving holiday luncheons and the many cook-offs.
While these occasions offer plenty of delicious food, Watts especially appreciates the chance they give her to connect with the larger community at DELTA. “They’re very relaxed and a lot of fun. You get an opportunity to talk to some that you only see in passing.”
What makes your job special?
“I find that my job overlaps in a lot of other areas in DELTA. I get to actually collaborate. Being able to not just be me in my area, but to work with others is really fun.” According to Watts, collaboration is one of her favorite aspects of her job.
Watts has built a strong network of collaborators at NC State. Her job at DELTA allows her to revisit her roots in Registration and Records. “I continue to collaborate with them. We’re currently working together on the transition to Slate for NDS application processing.”
At DELTA, she combines forces with several creative teams to improve and advance their projects. Her connections revolve mainly around website collaboration, but they don’t stop there. “Social media is another area that we collaborate on, sharing any important or new happenings with Online and Distance Education and the Test Centers.”
Working with others also gives her the chance to revitalize projects with new potential to explore. Out of her collaborations, “My favorite thus far was the revamp of the virtual orientation. It’s now a truly different experience than what was in place before, and it has received great feedback.”
Watts sees DELTA as more than just a group of individuals working together. “Collectively, we’re like a big creative brain of knowledge.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
“My hobby is event planning.” Among Watts’s repertoire are weddings, a retirement dinner and birthday parties.
After throwing parties and showers in high school, she discovered the variety that event planning offers. “It’s a creative outlet for me. I believe it’s possible to plan the same type of event over and over again and have a completely different experience each time. There are limitless possibilities on design, decor, food and entertainment.”
Much of her experience with birthday parties comes from her children. “I’m a very busy momma of four,” she says. Her kids range in age from a toddler to a teenager. “Gabby is the baby” at 2 years old, with older brothers Gavin, 7, Jordyn, 11, and Jaidyn, 13.
Her kids are no strangers to DELTA; in 2017, they starred in DELTA’s video The Do’s and Don’ts of the DELTA Testing Center, teaching NC State students the best ways to come prepared for their online exams.
Though Watts describes herself as “shy” and explains that it “takes a minute to warm up” to people, her passion for her job, her pastimes and her family is plain to see and shines through in her role at DELTA.