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Campus Closeup: Michelle Inman

Michelle Inman (CAPS) at one time envisioned herself living in the South and working at a textile mill, climbing the ladder toward plant management. She had earned a bachelor’s degree in textile marketing and management from what was then the Philadelphia College of Textile and Science in her home state of Pennsylvania. But as often happens, life events took her in a different direction. She had to revise her career plans after moving to lower Michigan with her husband and discovering very few opportunities in her chosen field. The pickings were even slimmer when they ventured to the Upper Peninsula to start a family. The closest Inman has come to textiles was through her former job at Neenah Paper in Munising.

“They did use some man-made materials—synthetic fibers—in some of their papers, so I gained limited experience working with those to some extent,” she said. “I spent nine years there in customer service, handling accounts such as Avery Labels and RR Donnelly, and two years in human resources. After I was laid off by Neenah Paper, I worked a couple of odd jobs through Manpower. I had almost reached the six-month stage of unemployment when this job became available. I started here in October 2010. I had never worked in the world of academia before.”  

As principal secretary in Communications and Performance Studies, Inman reports to department head Jim Cantrill and manages his schedule. She maintains and updates databases related to majors and advising. She collects and organizes letters of recommendation, course syllabi and vitae for professors and adjunct instructors. Inman also answers student questions and serves the needs of the faculty within the department

“The people I work with here are so complimentary. They say I’m organized, efficient and responsive. Sometimes I don’t feel I deserve the praise they give me. Jim and I work well together. He trusts me to get things done and sometimes it’s almost as if we can read each other’s mind. I’m sure there’s still a lot I could learn, though.”

Getting to and from work is somewhat of an adventure for Inman. She still lives in Munising with her husband, Brian, and three kids (Autumn, 13; Jacob, 11; and Samuel, 8). But she leaves the driving to someone else. Inman boards an Al-Tran bus at 6:15 a.m., works from 7:30-4:30, and then rides the bus home. She figures the $6 daily round-trip fare is worth adapting her schedule.

The commute means Inman is away from her home for nearly 12 hours a day. That doesn’t leave much time for other activities. Most of it is consumed by kids’ activities. On weekends, she often finds herself on the road again going to their basketball tournaments or other sporting events. When Inman does manage some down time and relaxation, she enjoys getting together with her in-laws for family gatherings, going to Sand Point beach in the summer and reading.