As I continue with my duties at North Lake College and my preparations to resume mathematics tutoring next semester, both endeavors have invited me to reflect on what it means to be professional.

During the 1996-1997 academic year, at a campus job fair, a recruiter completely ignored my presence for not dressing business-formally. This forced me to be not only more aware of my work environment, but that professionalism was infinitely more than just showing up to work.

Maturity: Know your place and what you were hired to do. Sometimes you will be a leader, sometimes a follower and sometimes both. All decisions made and actions taken must be based on solid information, established policies, procedures, laws and mandates from the leadership. Know that what others discuss behind closed doors is absolutely none of your business and that participating in rumors and gossip is an unwise activity that will lead to a painful end to your career.

Competency: You must have the academic background and experience to do the job. Be ready to quickly engage, adapt to and embrace something new that you neither learned in any textbook nor experienced in a previous job. You must be a problem-solver who can handle any crisis that falls under your watch. Absolutely no team has either the time or patience for incompetence.

Integrity: All professions will challenge and test you, and you must always pass. This can only be done if a personal set of values guides you. Humility, mission, wisdom and confidence will assist you with this. Arrogance, ambition, ignorance and conceit will not. No matter your position, never forget that you are an official representative of your organization.

Loyalty: Commit yourself to both the mission and vision of your employer, and never betray it. When you handle any type of confidential, private and/or sensitive information, remember you must respect and protect this material for the rest of your life.

All of this makes up character.

By working with the entire Maverick Diaspora, students may learn more about what it means to be a professional. And as I resume my duties, I would like to say everybody can always count on my professionalism.

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