Caitlin Dulin, Bookstore Retail Clerk

Caitlin Dulin, Bookstore Retail Clerk

Balancing Books, Buddies, and a Bright Future  

Caitlin Dulin standing outside the bookstore buildingAmong the aisles of the Grays Harbor College bookstore, Caitlin Dulin plays a unique part in the educational journeys of many GHC students. As the retail clerk in the bookstore, Caitlin helps students find the books they need for their classes. In this role, she is often one of the first people students meet on GHC’s campus. 

Caitlin has been helping students on their educational journeys for the past decade while also progressing through her own education and career. “I have been working at the college for 10 years, working my way up from a work study, to part time, to full time,” she shared. 

Throughout each school year, Caitlin becomes a familiar face and friendly confidant to many students, which is one of her favorite parts of her job. “I like to watch them from start to finish and celebrate with them at graduation,” Caitlin said. “I see many students throughout the entire quarter because they get snacks or come in just to say hi. They’re my buddies.” 

In addition to her role supporting students at GHC, Caitlin is also a student herself. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree online at Central Washington University, where she is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Family Science.

“During the pandemic, I decided I wanted to change my career and did a lot of soul searching to figure out the best fit for me,” Caitlin explained, reflecting on her decision to return to school. She spent time job searching and eventually decided to go back to school to become a mental health counselor and work with teenagers. 

Caitlin said the students she has helped at GHC inspired her to pursue a career in mental health counseling. “They confide in me a lot. I’m a very nurturing and helpful person, and I don’t think I could do what I’m made to do in a bookstore,” she said. “I see the mental health struggles that young people deal with, and I’ve experienced them myself. I see how they can hold you back, and I want to give young people the tools to overcome their fears, from roller coasters to going back to school to get a bachelor’s.” 

After deciding what she wanted to do, Caitlin took time to figure out how she would make her dream a reality. “I spent the next few months researching degrees and schools before landing on the Psychology degree at CWU.”

Since starting classes at CWU in winter 2023, Caitlin has continued to work full time in the bookstore. She said balancing school with work and life can be challenging.  In addition to working full time, Caitlin leads the young adult ministry at her church, “so I have like triple responsibility,” she said. Caitlin is proud of finding a way to juggle it all. “My proudest accomplishment is holding an ‘A’ in every class while balancing work and life.” 

Between working at GHC and managing her schoolwork, Caitlin has learned that there are times of the year that will be busier than others. Understanding the “flow of things” helps her maintain such a full schedule. When asked what advice she has for students, she said, “the beginning of the quarter always seems stressful. It gets better once you get into the flow of it. Don’t worry if it seems crazy in the beginning, things will even out. I figured that out going back to school.” 

In recognition of her success as a student, Caitlin has been awarded two scholarships from the Washington Public Employees Association. Additionally, she received a scholarship from the Grays Harbor Community Foundation. Beyond these scholarships, Caitlin has found other ways to help pay for her education. “As an employee at GHC, I get a tuition waiver. I get six credits covered at CWU each quarter,” she shared. 

Today, Caitlin has a clear vision for her future, but she understands that many students are still trying to figure out their next steps. “If you don’t know exactly what you want to do, getting a direct transfer (DTA) degree is a good idea,” Caitlin said. “I did that in 2013, and now I have all the pre-requisites for my bachelor’s program. I went straight into bachelor-level classes with my DTA from GHC, now that I know what I want to do.” 

As a new school year begins, Caitlin’s role in the bookstore will keep her busy, as she assists new students, reconnects with “buddies” from last year, and cheers on others as they progress through their academic journeys. Her story can remind us to embrace challenges, find inspiration in unexpected places, and strive to make a meaningful impact on our community.