Mendocino College Faculty in Focus: Candie Dickinson
Counselor and Director of the Mendocino College Career and Transfer Center, Candie Dickinson, smiles as she recalls becoming a psychology major in the 1960's, a choice that she says turned out to be perfect for her. “It was such an exciting time to study psychology,” she says, due to the lively debates between behaviorist and humanist psychologists that were going on then. “Famous behavioral psychologist, B.F. Skinner came to speak at Humboldt State while I was there,” she notes with obvious delight. Two of her undergraduate professors talked to her about considering college counseling as a career, explaining that women were needed in the profession, and they thought it would be a good fit for her. They helped her to think of herself in that role. In the 27 years of her professional career, Dickinson says, she has felt extremely fortunate in her choice. Her advice for the best way current students can find the perfect major? “Investigate, talk to people, job shadow, and try an internship,” she advises; “Be sure the major suits you before investing too much time and money.”
Originally from Crescent City, Dickinson attended College of the Siskiyous, a community college near Mount Shasta, and then transferred to Humboldt State University, where she earned a Bachelor's degree in psychology. She met her life partner, Damon, during her junior year at Humboldt, and they married after graduation. She and Damon attended graduate school together at Humboldt, where she earned a Master's degree in psychology with an emphasis in college counseling, as well as a teaching credential for grades K-8.
While most of her career has been in college counseling, Dickinson says many people might be surprised to know that she taught second grade in Arcata while working on her master's degree. Her first counseling job was at Butte College, where she also taught a class for expectant parents for five years.
Regarding changes in the past 27 years, she notes that “more students are coming to MC now who could have gone directly to a four-year college.” In addition, “students are more connected to the world around them now, due to the widespread use of computers,” she says.
Dickinson's favorite classes to teach are career life planning and study skills, because she finds it satisfying to help students with skills that help them become responsible for their own education. She created the first test anxiety course at MC to assist students who told her they knew the material but became so stressed before a test that they could not remember anything. She developed the test anxiety course to address that need.
She says “the students” are the best part of her job, although she also appreciates the autonomy of her position, and working as part of a team. The most challenging part of her job is “getting everything done!”
Dickinson is proud of the fact that the Career Center provides over 1,000 students with the opportunity to talk with at least 75 exhibitors at the Spring Career Fair on campus each year. In addition, every fall, College/University Day brings admissions personnel from both public and private universities to MC to meet with high school students from throughout the district.
When she is not working, Dickinson enjoys spending time with Damon, her husband of 41 years, as well as gardening (“especially antique roses”), and knitting. She is the mother of three “wonderful adult sons,” and the proud grandmother of three “beautiful granddaughters.”