Release Date: 
Thursday, March 28, 2024

Get to Know HFC: a wide-ranging career brought her back to help students find their way HFC

Beth Michel wearing glasses and a red sweater, sits at her desk in front of her computer.

In her junior year at Edsel Ford High School, current HFC Academic Advisor Beth Michel (pronounced “Michael”) wanted to pursue a career focused on computers, but she didn’t think she needed a college education for it.

“My counselor, Charles West (who later became a counselor at HFC), told me that if I wanted to work with computers, I might want to re-think my decision about avoiding college,” recalled Michel, of Dearborn, laughing.

After graduation from Edsel Ford the next year, Michel was one of the recipients of the HFC Board of Trustees Scholarship. At the time, this scholarship paid for 62 credit hours -- enough to earn an associate degree.

“The College was close to where I lived, and I planned to continue to work part-time at Oakwood Hospital [now part of Corewell Health],” she said. “I was not going to pass up a tuition-free opportunity!”

Helping people gain greater self-awareness as a counselor

At HFC (then Henry Ford Community College), Michel earned her associate degree in general education with a concentration in computer information systems. She transferred to the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where she earned two bachelor’s degrees. The first bachelor’s degree was in health policy studies with a human resources management specialty; the second was in psychology.

Michel later earned her master’s degree in guidance and counseling from Eastern Michigan University. She is working on her second master’s degree from EMU in human resources and organizational development, which she hopes to complete by 2025. Since 1993, Michel has been a Licensed Professional Counselor. She is also a certified test administrator under the Edison Electric Institute.

“I went into counseling because I felt I could make a real contribution in helping people gain greater self-awareness that would aid them in finding their life’s passions,” she said.

Encouraging employees to go to college while in the corporate sector

Michel has been in higher education for more than 11 years. Previously, she worked for DTE Energy, MichCon (now part of DTE), and Ameritech (now AT&T).

“I did similar work at each organization. I was hired as an external consultant to assist the HR and Organizational Development teams. I managed their educational assistance programs, where I encouraged and assisted employees to earn their college degrees. I collaborated with employees to develop individual education and career plans that supported their employee development plans at work. I also created an employee development workshop based on learning styles. I assisted with Gallup Culture Surveys, managed a test validation project, and assessed customer service skills of job applicants via an interactive employment test,” she said.

Michel also worked as a fundraising events manager for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in Southfield. She secured event underwriting, hired and trained employees, and recruited volunteers and local celebrities to raise money to fund the organization’s services and operations.

Prior to HFC, Michel worked at the State of Michigan for seven years as an eligibility specialist in the Department of Health and Human Services. She processed applications and performed annual reviews to determine eligibility for food stamps, Medicaid, cash assistance, and emergency services.

An advising encyclopedia

For three years, Michel taught a college success course at Davenport University in Dearborn. In late 2017, she returned to her alma mater and became an academic advisor.

“When I was a consultant, I had the opportunity to visit most of the colleges in Michigan. The energy on a college campus was always positive, and there seemed to always be something interesting happening,” she said. “My goal has always been to work at HFC, so I could give back to the HFC community for the fantastic start it gave me!”

“Beth is an advising encyclopedia!” said fellow academic advisor Chari Milai. “I can always trust her information about so many different aspects of the academic advising process. She is always willing to go out of her way to help her colleagues and students.”

Michel reports to HFC Director of Advising Jennifer Markin. Her duties include:

  • Providing academic advising to students on programs of study, course selections, and transferring.
  • Providing referrals to appropriate on-campus and off-campus support resources.
  • Maintaining updated knowledge on academic programs and curriculum changes at HFC and its university partners.
  • Attending meetings with faculty and staff.

"Beth is a caring advisor who takes her time making sure the students she supports have the information they need to make informed decisions," said Markin. "She is truly invested in the success of HFC students!"

Elections, animal rescues, and clearing away confusion for students

Outside of HFC, Michel is a precinct manager for the City of Dearborn for all elections. She is president of the Snow Woods Neighborhood Association in Dearborn and webmaster for the Motor City Alumni Chapter of Alpha Kappa Psi Fraternity, which she pledged during her UM-Dearborn days.

Michel also volunteers for various animal rescues, something she has done for several years. She was also heavily involved in two feline sanctuaries. She was vice president of Cat Tail Acres Sanctuary in Shelby Township and president of Cat Tail Farms Animal Sanctuary, which was originally in Fowlerville and is now in Pennsylvania. She even set up its Facebook page.

“I also volunteered at Home FurEver, a dog rescue in Detroit,” she said.

The best part of Michel’s job at HFC is witnessing what she calls “student a-ha moments.”

“This is when I am advising a student and they gain newfound insights that move them out of confusion into understanding and engagement,” she explained. “I can see the stress rolling away from their face and shoulders, and their whole demeanor changes. They smile, sit up straight, and become immersed in the advising process.”