July 21, 2024

Jan Thornton: from student success to faculty


This archived article was written by: Priscilla A. Sharp

Jan Thornton’s career started in the social services field when she worked with juvenile services from 1998 to 2004. She moved onto working with children services, but after hearing the stories of 4 to 5 year-olds, it became difficult to deal with all the emotional distress on a daily basis. “The best way to describe it was that it almost started to eat my soul.” she said.
A year later, a colleague referred her to the position open as the director of counseling and the disability resource center at College of Eastern Utah. After applying and being told she got the job she basically “back-flipped her way back to the college.” While she was over the DRC, she started teaching adjunct classes until she was promoted to director of student success and her supervisor told her that teaching adjunct classes and being the director was too much, so she stopped.
It was a hard decision to stop because of her love for the classroom and students, but she knew she had to focus on her job.
Another opportunity to teach came her way last summer, when a full-time teaching position in sociology opened. She sent in the application and is now part of the sociology department. Thornton is excited for the switch to the social services department.
Although she has many friends on either side, both the faculty side and the staff side, it was one of the most difficult opportunities to walk away from being the director of student success. Thornton believes that the news director of student success, Greg Dart, is going to take student services to a new level and she wanted to be a part of that team. Part of the reason she accepted the teaching offer was being in the student success position there were many administrative functions. Thorton says, “I felt like I was losing touch with students and they’re the reason why I’m here.”
One of the perks about being head of the social work program is, “It energizes me in a way I can’t even describe. I walk into the classroom tired and I walk out energized, just being around students, revives and revitalizes me and makes me more passionate about my field.”
She would like to see every student who comes into her class leave with the short term achievement to be successful and learn, and to have the long term inspiration to be “movers and shakers,” for them to want to do every job they do with the intention of making it better.
Thornton’s office is in the WIB building, room 239, and requests that if any students want to come see her, she is in her office quite frequently; if her door is closed, she’s probably not far away, and if it is open to feel free to come for a visit.