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Amrein ready for retirement, new challenges

5/12/2013

By DIANE GASPER-O'OBRIEN

Daughter of the late

LaVerna Gasper

She probably donned a graduation cap for the last time Saturday, but Karen Amrein expects to wear many more caps in the coming years.

Amrein is retiring from the North Central Kansas Technical College in Hays after teaching in the business department there for 23 years.

Her final graduation ceremony was Saturday, and like other instructors at the technical college, she wore a cap and gown along with graduates from the class of 2013 from NCK Tech's Hays campus.

After Saturday, Amrein expects to put that particular cap away for good.

"Don't know why I would ever have a reason to wear it again," Amrein said.

Amrein told Don Benjamin, NCK Tech's dean of the Hays campus, not to get her a rocking chair for her retirement, because she wouldn't use it.

"I'm retiring from a teaching career; I'm not retiring from life," said Amrein, who already has another job lined up at the Messenger, a Catholic book and gift store in Hays.

Amrein was working as a secretary in the career planning and placement office at Fort Hays State University in 1988 when her boss told her about her dream job. NCK Tech was looking for an instructor for its executive secretarial program.

She successfully sought the job and taught a variety of business courses there through the years.

"All I ever wanted to do was to be a secretary and to be a teacher, and I've gotten to do both," Amrein said at a retirement reception at the college last week.

Amrein said Benjamin has been having fun for a while, saying he was getting her a rocking chair when she retired, knowing full well how she felt about that.

"I didn't want to be ungrateful, so every time he teased me I just smiled," said Amrein, who received a quilt rack as a gift from the college. She is an avid quilter and knitter who took up both crafts in recent years.

Benjamin said he knew Amrein was serious about not wanting a rocker and while she is a quiet person, he always knew what to expect from her.

"You could always count on her and knew the type of job she was going to do," he said. "She was extremely efficient and can transfer her knowledge to the students in a very seamless fashion that benefits the students and that helps them with their career choices."

Now, it's on to a new career for Amrein.

"I thought it was time," she said of her decision to retire this year, " to give someone the opportunity to do what they love, the same way I got that opportunity."