Erin Stevenson, a Hendersonville native and Marine Corps veteran, is the new Student Life and Wellness Coordinator at Blue Ridge Community College.
The 33-year-old is the proud mother of two and feels that her military background has prepared her for her new role.
“Events can be stressful. Planning events can be stressful. Thankfully the Marines taught me how to manage stress and work well with others,” she said.
Although she was homeschooled throughout high school, Stevenson made the decision to join the military when she was only 15 years old.
She said she was testing herself, in a way, by doing the hardest thing she could think of.
At age 16, she started her weekend training and officially joined at 17 in 2004. After graduating from high school in 2005, she immediately started boot camp where she turned 18 shortly thereafter. She then turned 19 when she was in Iraq and 20 while in Afghanistan.
When she first joined the Marines, she wasn’t exactly sure what job she’d like to do. Her near-perfect ASVAB score ensured her options were very broad. After some discussions with recruiters she made her decision, and from that point forward proudly served her nation as a helicopter mechanic.
“I worked on light attack helicopters like the Huey H1, some of which were refurbished from Vietnam,” she said.
When she first made the decision to be a helicopter mechanic, Stevenson expected to be relatively safe from enemy fire since she’d be working on base. However, that was proven only partially true, as the helicopters were frequently the targets of enemy attacks.
After four years of service, Stevenson was honorably discharged on July 8, 2009, as one of only three women in a unit of 400.
Her next step was finding a job. Despite having numerous military certifications for helicopter maintenance, she did not have the required civilian certifications for the exact same job, which would have required several years of schooling. Because of this, she went to work as a lifeguard and pool manager.
After this, she briefly worked at a bank where she decided to return to school and chose Blue Ridge Community College as her best option.
“I chose Blue Ridge because of its proximity to home, and how affordable it is,” she said. “Blue Ridge was my avenue to figure out what I was good at and what I liked. It helped me select my future career.”
Stevenson graduated from Blue Ridge with an Associate of Arts. It was around this same time that she had her first child, which made her reassess the next steps in her educational journey. She decided to seek other work and found it with Henderson County. Through her various county positions, she earned experience with grant writing and statistics management, which became even more beneficial after having her second child.
Eventually she decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree, and transferred in 2017 to online courses at Northern Arizona University where she earned her Bachelor of Science in Parks and Recreation Management.
“I was a single mom with two kids – ages five and two – working full-time and going to school full-time online. I basically just wasn’t sleeping,” she laughed.
The hard work paid off, and Stevenson was hired at Blue Ridge in Spring 2021.
As the new Student Life and Wellness Coordinator, she’s already planning for the Fall Semester. Some upcoming events she’s responsible for include Welcome Week, Hispanic Heritage Month Kickoff Day – which is partnering with local organization Hola! Carolina – and the revival of Trivia Tuesdays on the second Tuesday of each month.
She said she’s excited to work with community organizations by bringing them to campus and showing students the resources available to them.
One other project she’s working on is seeking new members for the College’s Student Government Association and its Ambassador Program.
“We’re looking forward to meeting the next group of student leaders. Joining SGA or serving as an ambassador helps these students develop connections they’ll have for the rest of their life. They’ll work in a community of people with similar interests and form lasting friendships,” she explained. “They’ll also have a chance to really make a difference at Blue Ridge.”
When not hosting events, Stevenson enjoys hiking, watching movies with her children and spending time with her husband Bo.
She can be reached at email@example.com or at (828) 694-1805.