Wearing a warm smile framed by primly-styled sandy blonde hair, Norine Fine, 61, waits patiently behind the reception desk for early appointments.
Fine is a general counselor in the Transfer Center at Pierce College. Her job is not only to help students find their majors, but also to assist and advise them if they are considering alternative options.
“I connect students with resources to help them reach their educational goals,” Fine said. “With things like career revising and the honors program, I help those looking to transfer to a university and looking into a specific major and helping them choose between majors.”
Pierce College Transfer Center Director Sunday Salter said Fine is one of the best counselors Pierce has because she has a connection with her students and understands their situations.
“When you get into this field, we feel like it’s our calling to work with students in some capacity and I definitely see that in Norine,” Salter said. “She’s meant to be in this role of helping students. She does a great job everyday.”
Fine’s goal is to help students consider their options and have a wider worldview and go beyond the idea of a narrow pathway.
“She’s wonderful. Students really respond to her in a positive way. She does a lot of things for the department,” Salter said. “She created these Major Matters workshops on certain majors, and the students really enjoy those.”
According to Salter, Fine came from Santa Barbara City College in 2014 and has made a huge impact in the students’ lives at Pierce.
“She’s very sweet and very kind and she’s very positive,” Salter said. “She really cares about them [students]. It’s not just another job for her.”
Fine received her master’s degree in counseling and guidance and a liberal arts degree at Los Angeles Mission College in 2008. Though she is a full-time counselor, Fine finds time to take classes at Pierce.
Other than working with students, Fine enjoys reading and shopping with her 23-year-old daughter Carly Fine, a business major.
“She just graduated from Sonoma State. We toured around five different colleges, and from those colleges we toured, she chose Sonoma State,” Fine said. “I’m really proud of her. She works really hard.”
Fine said that when she lived in Simi Valley, the drive to work in Santa Barbara was exhausting, so she decided to see if Pierce College had any job openings.
“I was happy to come to Pierce, because it was closer, but I really love the department that’s here,” Fine said. “The counseling department is very warm and welcoming, and I get to do a lot of different things here.”
Getting a full-time job is competitive, according to Fine. So when she found out about the Pierce College opening, she was excited to submit her application.
“I started working at Santa Barbara, but there were no full-time jobs available, so I really applied everywhere and anywhere,” Fine said. “So I was really glad I got to work here.”
Fine said her purpose as a counselor was to open up her students to options and help them pursue their educational goals. After attending different colleges, and working at different campuses, Fine knew she wanted to be a counselor and saw herself working in this field in the future.
“I love working with students,” Fine said. “I used to work for an online college, so I definitely saw myself working with students.”
Pierce College anthropology and biology major Kaylee Barrett is an assistant counselor in the Transfer Center and has known Fine for more than three years.
“Fine was the first counselor I spoke to when I came to Pierce College in 2014,” Barrett said. “I’d just started working here about a month ago, and I still remember her from when she helped me.”
The 22-year-old said Fine’s counseling has made a huge impact on her life and helped her get organized to complete her major. Barrett said Fine is good with people and for her it’s not just a position, she genuinely cares about her students.
“She’s very patient and sweet spoken,” Barrett said. “She’s very nice and she’s very good with people.”
Fine said her goal is to help students with organizing their schedule, but she also encourages students to follow their dreams.
“I think if you follow your passion, you will find a way to utilize the skills and tools you learned. You will use that in your future career,” Fine said.