Women’s History Month provides a perfect opportunity to showcase one of the most accomplished women at Salt Lake Community College, Dr. Deneece Huftalin.
“I really love what I do,” says Dr. Huftalin. “I love students and helping them achieve their goals so I was motivated to get advanced degrees and get involved in national associations so that I could strengthen my skills and do an even better job on behalf of students. Education is so powerful and it’s such an important component of a healthy, vibrant world. I wanted to be someone who was contributing to that cause.”
As the eighth president to lead SLCC, Dr. Huftalin is someone to celebrate. Her relationship with higher education is one that has spanned 28 years. Dr. Huftalin is working hard to strengthen learning outcomes at SLCC, as well as initiatives for a more inclusive environment.
“I have actually felt a lot of support from the community in my career,” says Dr. Huftalin. “I’ve been at SLCC for a long time and I have been someone who was visible and created good partnerships, so support has been offered.”
With the support of her community, Dr. Huftalin hopes to achieve her goals and help others achieve their goals as well.
“The trick is to be able to get into the conversations and meetings where important work is happening and being confident and knowledgeable enough to share your perspective,” says Dr. Huftalin.
As an advocate for involvement, volunteering and inclusive initiatives, Dr. Huftalin leads college-wide assessment efforts. She also doesn’t feel that stereotypes about women have affected her career.
“I didn’t feel that growing up at all,” says Dr. Huftalin. “I was fortunate to be involved in a lot of activities and leadership roles in college so didn’t feel left out in that regard. I became more aware of some of the limitations people put on women in my early career.”
Her ability to learn things about herself in building a career and achieving goals are what sets her apart from other women in her field. Her practical approach to the future and dedication to SLCC are obvious.
“I’ve learned that I’m pretty determined,” says Dr. Huftalin. “I have a lot of support from friends and family. I have privileges that others may not have had and I need to be aware of those and acknowledge them. I’ve learned it’s important to pay attention to the time you have — to be present as much as you can in the moment. I look forward to working alongside faculty, staff and students to make SLCC an even more phenomenal institution.”
Her wide-ranging experience in education is a prime example of what it takes to be a role model. She has role models as well.
“My mom is a role model to me. She is very determined, independent and has a great positive and loving attitude,” says Dr. Huftalin. “She has always worked hard, but knows how important it is to laugh. Other role models of mine would be Eleanor Roosevelt, Katharine Hepburn and Michelle Obama.”
As a leader for women, as well as the community, Dr. Huftalin encourages women to find mentors who are similar to themselves, supports volunteering and who stands up for values and commitments.
“Find someone who has access to important committees or networks and ask them to help you volunteer. It’s important to listen to and watch other successful leaders especially in the way they build coalitions and to bring those characteristics to your own style,” says Dr. Huftalin. “If you feel you aren’t being heard or are in a place that doesn’t value your contributions, either work to change it, in a constructive and civil way, or find another place to shine.”