Twelve years ago, Diana King applied for a secretarial job at Siena College. The job was filled by an internal candidate, but King didn’t stop there.
“Well, what about her job?” King asked the person in charge of hiring at the time.
“You would really be a switchboard operator?” they asked King. “Yes,” she answered, taking a job that would help put her kids through college — at Siena.
A year after joining the Siena staff, she also joined the Siena student body. And for the past 11 years, King has slowly chipped away at her course requirements, stealing away to a class during her lunch hour. Most years, she took one class a semester, she said.
“It was hard, I will be honest there were times when I wanted to give up,” King said. But she persisted and, along with her daughter, walked across the stage at commencement earlier this month. “My advisers really pushed me; my last one really pushed me, she helped me see it was worth the extra effort.”
King, who lives in Colonie, has progressed through the school’s administrative ranks — from switchboard operator to chaplain’s secretary to an office coordinator. Last July, just a few credits shy of her business management degree, King was promoted to assistant dean of administration for the School of Liberal Arts — a promotion she said wouldn’t have been possible if she hadn’t gone back to school.
But the biggest role she has played has been Siena mom. Her three kids each graduated from the Catholic college in Loudonville, with the help of the 20-percent staff discount they received on tuition.
A few years ago, King and her two sons, Josh and Ryan King, all took the same upper level business course at the same time. Josh and Ryan graduated with business degrees in 2011.
“Everyone called us the three Kings,” Josh said. “We all sat together.”
And she and her daughter Valerie both graduated this year. Valerie, who majored in creative arts, will head off to Brooklyn soon to study costume and makeup design in Manhattan. Unlike Josh, who lived at home and commuted to school, Valerie lived on campus until her final year when she lived at home.
But she had to draw a line somewhere.
“I didn’t want to carpool, with my mom dropping me off,” Valerie said. “Something had to be different.” (Plus, mom had to get to campus early for work.)
King’s classroom experience also gave her insight into the lived experiences of student and faculty at the school where she plays an administrative role. After over a decade as a student, she said she better understands the perspective of students — whom she advises — and faculty, whom she evaluates.
“I understand the students more and where they are coming from, I understand the workload they have,” she said. “I understand the faculty better and the workload they have and what it takes to be a scholar in their field.”
Raj Devasagayam, a Siena marketing professor who worked on research with King, said she was an “excellent student with tremendous work ethic and commitment.”
King, Devasagayam and another student conducted research on consumer hoarding behavior, which has been presented at conferences. The students are aiming to get the research published in scholarly journals.
“She worked hard with a focus that is rarely seen in a student,” he said. “Anything Diana does she commits to it … research is a lonely process and if people aren’t committed to it they cannot complete it.”
Reach Gazette reporter Zachary Matson at 395-3120, [email protected] or @zacharydmatson on Twitter.