Get to Know HFC: Beth Gierada has a student-advocacy mindset
HFC Assistant Registrar Beth Gierada might have an unusual hobby: She has always enjoyed working.
“When I was a little girl, I was always looking for work. I mowed people’s lawns and babysat their kids,” recalled Gierada. “I tutored students in Wayne-Westland Community Schools. I also taught arts and crafts there and worked in the Head Start program. I just enjoy working.”
When she retires (not any time soon!), Gierada doesn’t plan on sitting back and watching the world go by.
“Absolutely not!” she said. “I just can’t imagine not doing anything.”
Born in Ypsilanti and raised in Wayne, Gierada is the eldest of three children. Her late grandfather, Rupert Hillyard, was a member of the Wayne City Council. She currently lives in Canton with Peter, her husband of nearly 45 years, and their puppy, Gypsy. They have three adult sons – Kyle, Aaron, and Joshua – all of whom co-own Dog & Pony Show Brewing in Oak Park, which recently celebrated its first anniversary.
“I’m really proud of my sons,” said Gierada. “They opened this brewery in the middle of the pandemic. When I told them my concerns, they said, ‘Mom, we’ve got this.’ And they do.”
Working for the family business and in healthcare
An alumna of Wayne Memorial High School, Gierada earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing with a specialization in e-marketing from the Novi campus of Walsh College. She also completed MBA coursework at Walsh.
For eight years, Gierada worked as the bookkeeper for Hillyard’s Service in Wayne, a gas station and repair shop founded by her grandfather, which was then passed on to her father, Rupert “Bud” Hillyard (who has been married to her mother, Peggy, for nearly 68 years). Her father sold the business more than 10 years ago.
“Both my father and grandfather were businessmen who believed in giving back to the community,” said Gierada. “My father was a member of the Lions Club for 50 years.”
From 1989 to 2001, Gierada worked at Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn (then called Oakwood Healthcare System) in a variety of roles.
“I worked for two years in Patient Accounting before moving on to the President's Office, then the Marketing Department to work in their Physician Referral Call Center, which was called Oakwood Healthline. I was instrumental in implementing the Call Center application called Centramax by building the data tables, maintaining data integrity, and reporting statistical information to leadership. As our call volume increased, I was promoted to Coordinator of the Call Center and managed call center representatives for seven years,”
"HFC's very lucky to have her!"
For more than 20 years, Gierada has worked in higher education. She began at her alma mater, Walsh, where she was the campus coordinator for two years. At the Art Institute of Michigan in Novi, Gierada was the registrar for five years. It was at AIM where she met HFC Campus Safety Department Secretary Sarah Sullivan.
"I met Beth in 2010. We shared the same love and passion for commencement, and we still do! Although she was no longer working for (AIM) when I graduated, she not only attended the ceremony to see me walk across the stage, but also assisted us with some last-minute setup tasks. It meant the world for me to have her there and to have her help, a beautiful example of how she is willing to go above and beyond!" said Sullivan. "When I came to work in Records and Registration at HFC in 2016, I had the wonderful opportunity of working directly for Beth. She was a great supervisor and mentor! I admire her dedication and compassion. She is a hard worker who always strives to help students be successful while also doing what is best for the College. HFC is very lucky to have her!"
For five years, she worked at Lawrence Technological University as the graduation/scheduling coordinator. In fact, she met HFC Interim Registrar Karen Sadanowicz and HFC Vice President of Student Affairs Holly Diamond during her LTU days.
“Beth is an asset to the Registrar's Office and HFC,” said Sadanowicz, her supervisor. “She has worked in higher education for many years and is dedicated to serving students, faculty, and staff. She is a very positive person and is always able to spread her cheerful demeanor with everyone. She has a vast knowledge base which she uses to effectively solve challenging issues while giving the most professional service to everyone.”
Grateful for her colleagues
In 2014, Gierada came to HFC. She joined the College at the same time Sadanowicz and fellow HFC Assistant Registrar Shaun Stevens did. She was a Records Associate IV at HFC before moving to her current position in 2018.
“I didn’t think I would be here long, but here I am. My lifespan when it comes to jobs in higher ed has been 5-6 years. I’ve been here longer than that. I love it here at the College,” she said.
Gierada’s main duties include handling semester scheduling, enrollment verification, graduation verification, and supporting commencement activities. She supervises HFC Records Associate III Anna Kiluk, HFC Records Associate III Tracie Leitner, and HFC Records Associate III Jennifer Jaber. Jaber is new to HFC, having come onboard in May.
“No two days are alike,” said Gierada. “There are periods where there could be little going on to heavy peak times during the semester. Something new pops up all the time. There’s never a dull moment here. If we’re not putting out fires, we’re celebrating each other’s accomplishments. It keeps me busy, but that’s what I love about being at HFC.”
For Gierada, the best part of her job is the people – both colleagues and students.
“We’re a family here. I’m blessed to work with Karen, Shaun, and Holly – they’re a great team. Everyone in Student Affairs works very well together. Our mindset is the students, and we want to deliver the best service we can. There’s a good synergy here,” she said. “When I first joined, former HFC President Dr. Stan Jensen was kind and welcoming. President Russ Kavalhuna has been a terrific leader. I feel like I’m part of one large extended family, and I’m just grateful -- for the people I work with, and for my husband and my sons.”
With her enjoyment of work, Gierada expects to continue serving students and her teammates for years to come.