MC assistant credits career success to father’s work ethicFebruary 07, 2024

The image to use for this article. Listing image managed through RSS tab. Joanne Thames

Her father only had a 7th-grade education, but he read all the time and gave Joanne Thames her work ethic.  Today, Thames has him to thank for giving her the drive to succeed in a rewarding career of over 30 years in the energy industry and the past two years in higher education.  He also instilled in her a love of reading, and she considers herself an avid reader, especially enjoying management books, mystery novels and faith-based material.  

“I was born and raised in Midland,” Thames said.  “When my father was discharged from the Navy, my parents moved to Midland and started a family.  I have three brothers and one sister.  My father was a custodian at Midland ISD for 35 years, and my mother was mostly a stay-at-home mom, but she worked for 10 years as a custodian at Midland Memorial Hospital.  I guess I am still keeping that tradition alive, as I coordinate the contracted custodial staff at Midland College as part of my job responsibilities.”

Thames started her journey at Midland College in 1988 receiving her high school equivalency diploma (GED®) when she was 24.

“I dropped out of high school, got married and had children,” she explained.  “If I had stayed in high school, I would have graduated from Midland High in 1982.“

In 1989, Thames was back at Midland College working toward an associate degree, which she obtained in 1991.  

“By that time, I was divorced and had two little girls, ages 5 and 2,” she said.  “I knew that I needed to get a degree to make a good life for them.  It wasn’t easy, but my daughters gave me the drive to get that degree, and in 1992, I graduated from UTPB [University of Texas Permian Basin] with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.”

During the time that she was working on her associate and bachelor degrees, Thames worked for a local oil and gas company and eventually became an engineering tech working mainly in the regulatory department.   

“I was laid off during the COVID pandemic and decided to turn my career in another direction,” Thames recalled.  

So, in January 2022, Midland College hired her to work in the mailroom.  College administrators soon took notice of the work ethic that her father had instilled in her, and within a year, she received two promotions.  Today, Thames is the assistant to the executive director of Facilities & Grounds at Midland College.   As such, she is responsible for purchasing all janitorial and maintenance products, coordinates various services with contracted companies and assists the executive director on all building and infrastructure projects.  She is also responsible for receiving and reviewing internal work orders and then coordinating the work requests with Midland College maintenance personnel.  She schedules maintenance and custodial responsibilities for special events and generally alleviates any problems that arise regarding maintenance and custodial areas of the College.

“It’s a great job,” Thames commented.  “I love working with the guys in the facilities and grounds department, and it allows me to give back to the college community that gave so much to me.  Midland College gave me the start that I needed for a promising career and to make a good life for my daughters.  I think my parents would be proud.”

Her daughters continued her example of getting an associate degree.  One of her daughters has an associate degree and is a physical therapy assistant, and the other has an associate degree in management.  

In August 2017, Thames married her husband David, who is a welder in the oil & gas industry.  Their blended family consists of 8 grown children, 15 grandchildren and 25 great-grandchildren.  Vacations for Joanne and David usually center around taking their boat to their favorite water recreation area—Lake Fork, which is northeast of Dallas.  They both have a passion for fishing.  This past summer in celebration of their fifth wedding anniversary, they spent a week in Destin and Fort Walton Beach, FL, and they hope to be able to travel there again soon.

In her spare time, besides reading, Thames enjoys crocheting, mostly blankets for the great-grandchildren.  She also volunteers her time as a member of the leadership team for the Midland College Alumni and Former Student Association.

“I have a wonderful life,” Thames said.  “It hasn’t always been easy, but thanks to my father’s teachings, I’ve always known that with hard work and perseverance, I would be able to succeed.”

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