Dr. Claudia Griffin, retiring as director of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope Career Pathways program on May 17, will leave behind a legacy at UACCH which began in 2007 when she was instrumental in helping develop and set up the program at the college.
Dr. Claudia Griffin, retiring as director of the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope Career Pathways program on May 17, will leave behind a legacy at UACCH which began in 2007 when she was instrumental in helping develop and set up the program at the college. Griffin grew up in Stephens, and graduated from high school there. After graduation, she went to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Physics, and Math in 1971. She also received her Masters degree from Ouachita Baptist University in Education, and obtained her doctorate degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 2010, with a degree in Higher Education Administration. She also taught in the classroom for about 12 years. “I taught math and I was involved in the Gifted and Talented Program at Yerger and Hope High School,” she said. “I also taught part-time out here at UACCH.” Griffin is very enthusiastic about the program that she helped begin. “We serve custodial parents in this program,” she said. “Some of the guidelines include being an Arkansas resident or a non-citizen who meets eligibility requirements for TANF-funded services to non-citizens; you are legally responsible for a child under the age of 21 who lives permanently in your home and you meet certain income guidelines, including receiving money from DHS, ARKids, or food stamps or your adjusted gross income is less than 250 percent of the current federal poverty level based on the most recent year's federal income tax return. “The college has been so helpful by forming policies and including us in discussions about books and such,” Griffin said. “That's what our main purpose is here, to provide books and equipment so that the students can do well in their coursework. We loan books, calculators, lab kits, and in some circumstances, we provide tools and supplies. The tools are usually for diesel classes, electricity, HVAC, or welding classes, and the supplies are usually for nursing students, including a stethoscope, a CPR mask, a watch, a nurse kit, and a drug card binder. “Exam fees are also paid for some of the tests that the students have to take,” she said. “The students must complete the program in good standing and must return all borrowed equipment before they can be tested. “We have the largest Career Pathways Program in the state of Arkansas and we're only a two-year college,” Griffin said. “That's a pretty good deal, considering there are many colleges and universities in the state. It depends all on the funding. We are set up through a grant and as long as the money holds out, we will be able to help as many students as possible.” Helping students has been her vocation in life, but now Griffin says it's time to retire. “My husband, James Griffin, has been retired for two years now, and I see how much fun he has,” she said. “He was a math teacher at UACCH and retired in 2011.” The Griffins are very active in the Lions Club in Hope. James is the Vice District Governor for 7L in the Lions Club, and Claudia was the first woman Lions Club president ever in Hope and the first woman Lion of the Year. “I think it's time to retire,” she said. “I want to join James in some of the fun. I love my students and I love helping them achieve their dreams, but it's time to go.” The couple has been married for 44 years and have two daughters, one 40, and one 38 years old. The Griffins are active in First Baptist Church of Hope and have been for 44 years. “I'll be busy with church and the Lions Club and we have plans to travel,” Griffin said. “I love this area and we don't plan on leaving here. We plan to stay in Hope because this is our home and always will be. The economy of Hope and Southwest Arkansas saddens me, but it is still a good place to live and we love it.”