After entering Rodda Hall North, Room 277, with a quick turn to the left past a humble setting of desks and workspace equipment will lead you to the first point of contact for the media and the public at City College.
This is where Crystal Lee can be found. Lee, 29, a former City College student, is the new full-time City College public relations technician. Until Amanda Davis returns from maternity leave, Lee will be taking her place in the interim.
Lee’s background prepared her for the public relations position. She says she came to City College after two years of employment with The Davis Art Center. As a former City College student from 2000-2002, her classes included working on the campus newspaper, the Express, as a writer, then a news editor, and eventually one of the first web editors for the newspaper’s online site.
“When you get down to it, the Express is where I really started my career,” Lee says. “I feel a personal connection to the school.”
In her current job as the interim public information officer for City College, Lee reports directly to and works closely with City College President Kathryn Jeffery. Lee’s duties include maintaining communication with the community regarding changes and projects happening on campus.
In addition, Lee informs local news media about City College’s big events, like the recent ribbon cutting for the Hughes Stadium and opening of the new Performing Arts Center. If that’s not enough, Lee handles the City College website and social media.
In 2001, when Lee was on staff at the Express, she says editors physically copied, cut and pasted layouts as commonplace steps, followed by a drive to Galt with their finished work for printing.
Currently, City College graphic design students perform this task, digitally.
As a news editor, she says she was confident in her skill set and felt she had a direct role informing fellow City College students. Lee says working with the original Express website, which at the time was an experimental project, proved to be a time-consuming task.
“Right now the whole online world is a challenge for newspapers in general,” says Lee.
Lee says of all the Express issues and challenges of meeting deadlines, the special edition published after the 9-11 attack on the World Trade Center is her most memorable.
“It was very real news and we tried to get students’ perspective,” said Lee. “It was a different time.”
Former City College journalism instructor and current Cosumnes River College Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Ginny McReynolds spoke highly of Lee.
“Crystal is diligent and a fine addition to the staff,” McReynolds said.
Lee says her transition from City College student to an employed reporter happened in 2005. A Woodland paper, The Democrat, gave Lee the city council beat, an experience she describes as wonderful.
“I am forever grateful that I had that opportunity to get my foot in the door,” Lee says. “The Democrat gave me my professional experience.”
After two and a half years of employment, she moved on to work as a writer for the Davis Enterprise, where her coverage of the city council remained the same.
Lee says the days were long and the job became physically exhausting. Every Tuesday she would attend the City Council meetings until the end—which sometimes meant midnight. The story deadline was 6 a.m.
“Often I would not get home until 4 or 5 in the morning,” says Lee.
No longer in journalism and married two years ago, Lee says she is looking forward to having children one day. She says the job she has now is the stable job she was in search of and the enduring work of journalism has prepped her properly for this position, one of “constant challenges.”
Because of her background in journalism Lee will tell you she is no novice to deadlines, schedule adaptations and long hours. Still, her work in public relations allows her to work hard and show her dedication.
“I don’t think I will be working until 5 a.m.,” Lee says. “But if the job requires it, I will.”