Donna Smith headshot

Life can throw unexpected challenges in front of us, completing taking us off our current, familiar path. Looking back at a fateful holiday season more than 10 years ago, Donna Smith knows this all too well.

But, it turns out she can also vouch that these difficult times  offer great opportunities to choose a new direction in life!

Here’s her story:


15 Years, then Gone

December of 2005 was a major changing point in my life. I had been with a factory for almost 15 years when I woke up one morning between Christmas and New Years and was told our company was closing its doors permanently, and it was effective immediately.

While much was a blur during that time, there is one day I remember well:

I had an appointment with a counselor at Moraine Park. I knew that I wanted to go back to school but was unsure what program I should enroll in. In my visit with him, I had mentioned I was interested in the Medical Transcription Program. I remember, after only speaking with him for under 10 minutes, he told me he thought the Medical Transcription Program was not the right fit for me. He mentioned that, based on my personality, I should do something where I would work with people. He had asked me some questions, and he and I agreed that the best fit for me was the Administrative Assistant Program (Administrative Professional).  I really did not know what industry I wanted to work in after I graduated, which is why the Administrative program was the path I chose. Long story short,  I was enrolled in the program and started classes less than a month after losing my job. I graduated in December of 2007 with my Associate Degree and Office Assistant Certificate.

The skills I learned at Moraine Park have been used daily in my work and have helped me in my personal life as well. I had several classes in my Administrative Profession program, such as Meeting and Event Planning, which I really enjoyed. I never thought, at the time, I would be using a lot of that information in my current role.

After graduation, I started at the Heidel House Resort in Green Lake as a Sales Assistant.  After a year, I realized I loved hospitality and knew I could sell our property. Soon, I became a Sales Manager and, as of July, 2016, I have been promoted to Senior Sales Manager at the Heidel House Resort.

I believe in lifelong learning and had it not been for my experience at Moraine Park.  Without the support of the instructors and advisors, I would not be where I am today.


Donna’s life has been transformed as a result of her time at Moraine Park. So, remember, it’s never too late to change your own direction in life, too! If you’d like to consider a career in Administrative Professional, or view all of our other career options, visit morainepark.edu/programs.

Written by Joan Seichter

Business Technology Instructor