Alumna of the Year 2015
College was a family affair for Rachel Spiegel, Norco College’s 2015 Alumna of the Year. She attended college with three siblings. It was a time of mutual support and encouragement, with a healthy dose of competition to keep things interesting.
“We always competed to see who could get the best grade in a class,” Rachel said. “We tried to take classes together or similar classes at Norco.”
School didn’t always generate such good memories, she admits. Her high school career was unimpressive; she only managed to eke out a 1.8 GPA.
Norco College’s first president, Brenda Davis, drove Rachel to try harder, to honor her own potential.
“Dr. Davis pushed me, all of us really, to achieve our goals. I remember I was struggling when I first came to Norco College,” Rachel said. “Brenda called me into her office and said, ‘Rachel, you can do better; you have the drive to do better.’ It kind of put me in my shoes and helped me focus.”
Rachel’s academic awakening was fueled by another mentor, too, kinesiology instructor Jim Winn.
“It really helped to follow his guidance,” Rachel said, adding that she still works with Winn through her volunteer service at The SPORT Clinic in Riverside.
Rachel capped her studies at Norco College with two associate degrees before going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in health care management. She then paired full-time work with part-time study, earning a master’s degree in Human Resources Management. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Business Administration, Human Resources Management from Walden University.
Today, Rachel Spiegel manages a busy chiropractic corporation in Corona, using the knowledge and many of the skills she first acquired at Norco College.
Balancing work, school, and her volunteer commitments at The SPORT Clinic and Congregation Beth Shalom present daily challenges.
“I get my motivation from my students and my employees,” she said. “Even my four-year-old nephew gives me small comments of congratulations. He’ll say ‘I’m glad you’re going to school,’ which always helps guide the way.”
Her boss, Anthony Pirritano, also serves as an inspiration. His encouragement never fails to lift Rachel’s spirit.
Rachel’s vision for the future is shaped by past challenges she overcame and present issues that she’s eager to address.
“Norco College was a stepping stone on my career path,” Rachel said. “Originally I intended to go into sports medicine. But then, I switched it up.”
Again, it was real life that provided the catalyst.
“I’ve gone from the bottom as a part-time employee to becoming general manager,” Rachel said. “I see how employees are treated and how you can help improve work lives and programs within your business.”
Eventually, Rachel hopes to act as a consultant to small businesses, but she is content with her still-evolving role with the chiropractic corporation.
“We are expanding the business, looking to do integrated medicine and possibly adding more doctors in multiple facilities,” she said. “I know my HR degrees will help immensely.”
Wherever the next years lead, Rachel’s path will always be grounded in Corona and at Norco College. Her mother is a longtime elected official in the city; her father serves as executive director of the Corona Chamber of Commerce; her siblings are successful Norco College alumni.
“Growing up in Corona, it’s been Norco College all the time for my family,” Rachel said. “I don’t see that changing.”
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