Academic advisor says mentors at PBSC set her up for success

Palm Beach State College alumna Katerine Pais encourages today’s students to “never give up and stay strong.” Her mantra is backed by a philosophy that has served her well. “Even when we feel like the underdog, it’s important to be proactive and resilient. Many doors will open as long as we don’t give up.”

Now an academic advisor at the University of Connecticut, Pais says being a hard worker has paid off, and she encourages others to be driven by their own goals. Moreover, she values what it means to be humble and kind while being confident to excel in any field or career we choose.

Pais moved to the United States as a child. “My grades in high school weren’t very strong due to the transition. As with most immigrant students, I had to navigate college on my own, so I opted for a community college. Thankfully, I received a scholarship from Future Educators of America that afforded me the opportunity to start.”

During her time as a student and with her first job in higher education at PBSC, Pais saw firsthand how resilient young people can be, enduring personal or widespread disasters. “As a first-generation college student, I was fortunate to find PBSC, allowing me to flourish and opening doors to new places I never had envisioned.”

Pais graduated with presidential honors and received a scholarship for community college students, transferring to Florida Atlantic University. There, she graduated with a degree in English and a high GPA, earning various merit scholarships that led to graduate school at FAU.

“The odds can be against students like me, but I do believe that PBSC set me up for success, along with my personal drive and discipline to study and work hard.”

Serving as a tutor with the Student Learning Center helped Pais acquire transferable skills, prompting her to shift her path from pursuing teaching to exploring careers in higher education. “I have been blessed with two lifelong mentors. Joyce Kevetos had been my boss at the SLC and became a mentor as I embarked on a career in higher education.

“Dr. Frank Littler was also a favorite professor and mentor. I will always be grateful that he took the time with me as a first-year student, supporting, challenging and inspiring me to dream big. He believed in me to grow academically and professionally.”

Under Littler’s guidance, Pais turned her mediocre high school grades into pure academic excellence, crediting much of her success to the dedicated faculty and staff of both PBSC and FAU.

Pais found herself drawing from her own experience as a student and tutor at PBSC, encouraged to serve students in similar situations. She spent five years working as a learning specialist while obtaining her master’s degree at FAU, launching a career in higher education for more than 15 years now.

With a positive mindset, desire to empower others and personal motto that says, “prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” Pais has embraced her opportunities, some of which come only once in a lifetime, bringing her not only great success in her career but also tremendous joy in life.

In recognition of Palm Beach State College’s 90th anniversary, the weekly Alumni Spotlight Series showcases the College’s role in preparing generations of graduates to achieve success in myriad careers and give back to their local communities.

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