25 Years of Commitment - Caroline Ragano
Michael Holm & Rose Audretsch
2018 marked the 25th anniversary of Caroline Ragano’s continued service to the SALT Center’s mission, vision, and more than all else, its students. After speaking at length with Caroline about her experiences at the SALT Center, the number of years seems of little consequence. The countless relationships that she has formed over that amount of time seem to define who she has always wanted to be, a professional, a mentor, and a friend.
Caroline is a Strategic Learning Specialist and a great example of someone who gives back to her community. Her involvement with the UA’s Student Success and Retention Innovation Diversity Committee and the SALT Center Student Event Team are only a couple of ways that she continues to help those around her. Before her years as a Strategic Learning Specialist, Caroline spent three years as a SALT Center tutor of American Sign Language and a specialist working with students placed on academic probation. Her dedication to the students drove her to continue her education in the field of learning and attention challenges where she went on to receive her M.A. in Special Education and Rehabilitation.
The SALT Center was originally housed in the basement of Old Main, the first building constructed on the University of Arizona’s campus. Caroline is one of only three Strategic Learning Specialists still on staff to have worked in this iconic landmark. When asked what it was like to work in the cramped space of Old Main, Caroline answered positively, “The challenges of Old Main promoted creativity, diversity and communication. Old Main has a unique charm to it; it’s the heartbeat of campus.”
The role of the Strategic Learning Specialist has evolved greatly since the creation of the SALT Center in 1980 and throughout Caroline’s years of service to students. “It is a struggle to put a title on all we do for our students. With new diagnoses comes new information, understanding and applications,” said Caroline when considering her own professional progress. Caroline’s sheer joy of working with the SALT Center population rings true in nearly all of her commentary.
“Watching people grow is a big part of what I do, what I like. And having the privilege and the honor of being let into those life experiences that promote growth. I feel that I learn from them [the students] as much as they learn from me.”
Although Caroline takes pride in her professional contributions to the field of learning and attention challenges, it is most notable that she focuses wholeheartedly on the emotional and academic well-being of her students. She stated boldly at the end of our conversation concerning her years at the SALT Center, “Students simply need to allow the rapport between themselves and their learning specialist to grow and flourish. Trust in the relationship being built. The journey is the most important experience. It’s all about how you accomplish the goals you set before you.”
Thank you, Caroline. Thank you for your years of commitment and for yet another friendship founded in professionalism, respect and trust.