ST. CLOUD -- A leader in higher education is Rush Hour's Rookie of the Week.

Annesa Cheek, St. Cloud Technical and Community College's new President was nominated by her new colleagues at SCTCC to be a "rookie."

Cheek started in her new role earlier this month. Cheek grew up in Dayton, Ohio. While she was a kid, her dad worked in a factory and her mom was a school teacher. Cheek says because of her parent's influence she always knew she wanted to go to college.

"There never was a question for me when I finished high school about what you would do afterward. I didn't even really think about it, I had just been taught that you go to college."

Cheek went to an HBU (Historically Black College/University), Tennesee State University for her bachelor's degree. She says after graduating she still didn't know exactly what she wanted to do.

"It was a great experience for me. I got my bachelor's in business, still didn't know what I wanted to do when I finished my four years. So I don't think a lot has changed, I know I've talked to a lot of students now and they are finished and they say 'I don't know what I want to do.' So I try to calm them down with that."

Cheek went on to get her master's degree and worked in the corporate world for a number of years. After years of being in on the business side, she says she wasn't fulfilled and wanted to try something different."

"At some point early on in my career, I just found my work wasn't as satisfying. Which I was working really hard but you come home and I was like okay what did you really do today. You push papers and that kind of thing, you're in meetings but you just want to feel an impact, at least I did."

By talking about her career struggles with her friends and neighbors, she was encouraged to pursue going into an education position.

"They encouraged me, the stars aligned, and the next thing you know I was sitting down and talking to the president of our local community college in Ohio. It's a pretty big school about 30,000 students and I never looked back."

Cheek worked for Sinclair Community College in Ohio for about 11 years in various leadership roles. As she gets settled into her new position she says her main goal is to get out into the community as much as possible, to learn about St. Cloud and what people would like to see at the college.

If you're thinking about going into a higher education field, Cheek says to make sure your heart is really in the right place.

"You have to start with the 'why' not the 'what.' Why do you want to do what you want to do? Why would you go into higher education or education in general? As I touched on before for me it has always been about service. This is a servant leader kind of role, you have to dig deep into who you are as an individual and what you believe in and what you aspire for yourself and your community."

Cheek adds that she believes education is a right, not a privilege and if you believe that notion, you're on the right track.

Cheek officially took over as SCTCC's President, July 1.

Do you have someone you'd like to nominate for Rush Hour's "Rookie of the Week?" If so, email Chrissy Gaetke, or Richard Leguil,

Rookies can be anyone who has been in their current position for less than a year, even if they've been in the same field for years.

"Rookie of the Week" airs weekly on Rush Hour, weeknights from 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. only on AM 1240 WJON.

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