Twenty-Five Years of Selfless Service CATLab Roots: Dawn Gendron
“I just feel like Westmont is a family,” Dawn Gendron says with a smile, “I love the students.”
With more than 25 years of experience in Westmont Admissions, Dawn Gendron is a root of not only the CATLab, but also Westmont College itself. Her commitment to serving our community is demonstrated by the countless hours of hard work ensuring that the application and admission process goes as smoothly as possible.
Although her family moved from Ohio at an early age, Dawn has been a Santa Barbara local her entire life. Dawn grew up around the beautiful hills and beaches that those in our community know and love. Much of her childhood was spent in the hills above Hendry’s beach, collecting and categorising bugs.
Fearless from an early age, Dawn once went skateboarding down a steep Santa Barbara hill. The twist? She was riding lying down on her stomach, which led to a painful road rash all across her body when she fell off.
Citing her father, a member of the air force, as an inspiration for her “tough work ethic,” even as a young woman Dawn demonstrated impressive diligence as she would walk miles to school early every morning for years of her life. After graduating from college and marrying the love of her life, Dawn settled down for a while to raise three children in Ventura.
Although she had previously worked for several magazines dedicated to the farming communities of the central coast, Dawn put her professional career on pause, dedicating much of her hard work and time to her children. Once her kids were a little older, however, Dawn was ready to move back into the job market, beginning to look for work in the spring of 1996.
“And so I went to my pastor and I just said I'm looking for work,” Dawn says. Her pastor pointed her to an opening in the admissions office at Westmont.
Fortunately for Westmont, Dawn was everything they were looking for in an admissions employee. Clearly hardworking, Dawn began work during the middle of the 1996 application cycle, working with “processing paper applications,” which required an exhausting attention to detail and a ton of storage space. During the next year, however, they went “high tech”: Dawn explains with a smile, “we sent out CD ROMs.” She continues, that “students would slip that CD ROM in, they type in all their information, mail it back to us.” From there, Dawn and her fellow admissions workers “would still hand-enter our information,” into the then already outdated Westmont DOS computer system.
“I was in charge of trying to make that [system] work and figure out how to get the data. At that time, we were on an old system, an old green screen system called AS400. In other words, there was no drag-and-drop system. Everything was in code, and it was as digitised as much as something could be digitised back then.”
Despite the daunting task of manually coding in each individual application, Dawn persevered and demonstrated her own impressive commitment to serving the Westmont community for years to come.
Fellow Westmont Admissions team member Adae Rehmke says that in her many years working with Dawn, she has “witnessed the true meaning of dedication as [Dawn]consistently completes challenging projects on tight deadlines with excellence.”
“It's a challenge,” Dawn says, “but it's fun. And that's where there's a lot of camaraderie between all the departments, and I work very closely with student accounts and the registrar's office and financial aid office.”
Thankfully for Dawn and the rest of her team, the work has been made easier throughout the years through the admission department’s migration to a Salesforce system. “Salesforce has something that no other CRM company has,” Dawn states, “a comprehensive and connected internal ecosystem that’s easy to learn, use, and create with.” With Salesforce at their fingertips, Dawn estimates that the admission’s team efficiency has “increased by a hundred percent.”
Throughout her career here at Westmont, Dawn views her community as an extension of her own family, and as such, she takes her responsibilities to them with extreme diligence. After 25 years of experience Dawn has at Westmont, because every day is “an opportunity to better a student, faculty, or family member’s life,” Dawn is more than happy to work for years to come.
Mike McKinniss, director of Admissions, best summarizes the importance Dawn has been to our community, “Dawn loves Westmont. She loves what this place does for young men and women. And she loves that she gets to play a role—behind the scenes—in helping students grow into more Christ-like character and intellect.”
Stay connected with the CATLab this summer as we continue this series and further seek to cultivate our community.