Kachemak Bay Campus celebrates staff retirements

Faculty, staff and students join classroom to share memories, say thank you and say goodbye to Caroline Venuti and Christine Thorsrud

A group of faculty, staff, students and community friends joined in an upstairs room at Kenai Peninsula College’s Kachemak Bay Campus on Friday, May 5, to say goodbye to long-time staff members Caroline Venuti from the Learning Resource Center and Christine Thorsrud, librarian technician.

Director Reid Brewer said the two — who were part of the campus for a collective 40 years — had “shown an amazing commitment to student education, faculty support and care for community members.”

“I think I speak for everyone when I say we really appreciate your dedication to the students and faculty for helping all of us do our jobs better and for your attention to detail,” he said.

Venuti started at the college in with the Youth Job Training Program, a short-term grant funded program that helped students from the age of 16 to 21 get skills necessary for employment. It included assistance in getting a GED, a driver’s license, various training programs, learning skills to interview for employment and, “helping people find a job and hold on to it,” Venuti said.

Her original position with the college was housed in Homer’s current HERC building. The current KBC building was not yet remodeled. When the college was remodeled and the Learning Resource Center was created, Venuti’s position changed to coordinator of the center. The LRC was intended to be a facility of the college with an atmosphere where the students felt welcome and encouraged to engage space accommodating to learning.

“At some point before COVID, I think I had four tutors working in there. It was very busy at one point but during COVID the enrollment dropped significantly,” she said. During COVID, the LRC was not always open and students would send Venuti papers electronically where she could edit and respond.

Before her positions at KBC, Venuti taught elementary school in Homer for about 20 years. Prior to that, she also taught at Hope Elementary for seven years and in Hunter Point in Quebec, Canada, for two years.

Venuti expects to remain busy in town with her own gardening and serving on Homer’s City Council. “I’m not planning on moving. I love Homer, this is my home,” she said.

Christine Thorsrud served as the library technician at KBC for 18 years.

“Over most of the years we had a very active, face-to-face student population. That’s changed a little as we transitioned to distance learning and virtual classes. But, for most of my time there things were very active in the computer lab, the library, the commons,” Thorsrud said.

“We have had such an incredible population of exceptional students. We have everything from jump-start students who are in high school all the way to students who were in their eighties. KBC was a marvelous place to work and take classes.”

Thorsrud talked about the benefit of published literature compared to online information.

“So much of what a person finds online is information but that is not necessarily knowledge,” she said.

Prior to KBC, Thorsrud worked at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“This job has never felt like work; the college is a marvelous place to be. I feel like that every time I walk in the door,” she said.