Smarties, meet Julie Grahl! I was introduced to Julie when she was “mominated” to be featured as a Smarty Mom. Her story and spirit stood out to me. I simply had to get to know her. Julie has a passion for education and a fantastic career at CPCC where she is making a difference in the lives of young adults each and everyday. In sharing with Julie, I learned about her dedication to her sweet daughter, Sutton Claire, and the wonderful woman she is named after. I’m thrilled to introduce to you our Smarty Mom, Julie Grahl. Enjoy her humble heart and witty responses!
Mom to: Sutton Claire (23 months)
Married to: Jimmy Grahl (seven years)
Years lived in Charlotte: Nine years
You are currently the Director of High School Programs at Central Piedmont Community College. Tell us about your job and the outreach programs you coordinate with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools?
Basically, the Outreach and Recruitment department in which I work at CPCC recruits both traditional high school students and nontraditional adult students. We are able to inform students about the advantages about their local community college, which is one of the top in the country. We assist students through the entire enrollment process from admissions to the first day of classed. Our department actively recruits in CMS through the College Connection Program, where we are able to connect directly with students during their senior year and assist them with their post-secondary education plans.
What are some of the challenges you see facing the educational system today?
With our economy, students face many challenges funding college, especially nontraditional students who may be unemployed. The community college is an easy, economical way to help students face that challenge. With federal and state grants, as well as scholarship dollars from local companies and the CPCC Foundation, students have many outlets to help them pay for college. It is important that the community is aware of what is available to them.
How do you balance a full-time job and mommyhood?!!
With loads of support from my great husband, Jimmy, as well as family in the area that can help out when needed. I think it is important to have a work-life balance, which means planning activities with my family not only on the weekends but also during the week. My husband and I try to tag team all the “home stuff” that needs to be taken care of so we can spend more time as a family.
You are an active member of the Mary Claire Satterly Foundation. What is the story behind this amazing organization and why is it so dear to your heart?
Mary Claire Satterly was a dear friend from college who was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) at age 27. Within a week of her diagnosis, she unexpectedly passed away. Her family and friends immediately started the Mary Claire Satterly Foundation to honor her Most Celebrated Spirit. The foundation supports efforts to find a cure for leukemia and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. In the first few years of the foundation’s existence, we have built the Mary Claire Satterly Oncology Playroom at UNC Chapel Hill Hospitals, our alma mater and the hospital where Mary Claire was treated. The playroom allows children battling cancer to just be children while receiving treatments. It is such an amazing place and she was such an amazing person. We met the first week of college and stayed close friends…she was a bridesmaid in my wedding. I even named my daughter Sutton Claire after her. This organization means the world to me just like Mary Claire did!
You are a self proclaimed “penny pincher”! What are some of your favorite places to nab a great bargain!?
I love TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and Home Goods. I always have! It thrills me to pick through the racks to find a good deal on a designer clothing item. Lately, I have also started buying lots from Target for Sutton and me. As for furniture, a good yard sale or even the Salvation Army on Central Avenue have great finds. And of course, like many Charlotte moms, I cut coupons and subscribe to Groupons and Living Social. Love those sites
What is the most important lesson you have learned since becoming a mommy?
The most important lesson I have learned is that some things are just out of our control. As much as I am a planner and want everything to be perfect, with kids, you just have to go with the flow. Planning out every second of every day is not so easy anymore. I can stay organized but have to relax if things don’t go as planned.
SUV or mini-van?
Ok, so my husband has wanted a mini-van since college, even before we had our daughter. He just thinks they are so practical. But when we went to buy our first family car, we went with the SUV. I think the mini-van will come with multiple kids!
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I see myself with at least one more child and hopefully in a new house. I will probably still be working in higher education, which is my passion!
What is your favorite kid-friendly restaurant?
We love Loco Lime on Central. They have a “kids eat free” day and they have a back room where I think they put families so that all the kids can just run around crazy!
What are your favorite activities to do with Sutton Claire?
Well, we love Chantilly Park in the evenings after work and the splash grounds at Veterans Park have been a hit this year. I also tag along with my friend to her pool all the time. During the winter, Sutton loves doing art projects and going to Monkey Joe’s. I think she would go every day if we could. Sutton also likes anything “outside” and she loves hanging out with her 3 cousins that all live in Charlotte!
What is the funniest thing Sutton has ever said to you?
We were reading books one day and Sutton wanted to read the Bible. We started just looking through the pages and saying Moses, Jesus, God, etc. She looked up at me and said, “and Elmo too”!
What is your favorite “girls night out” spot?
Well, I get together with a group of girl friends about once a month. We call ourselves “Taboos” because we talk about everything, no limits and no judgment. They are wonderful girls. We usually pick a house and do dinner, but when we “go out” we go anywhere there is a drink special. A few of our favorites have included Soul, Village Tavern and Cowfish.
Favorite thing about being a mother?
My favorite thing is seeing a sweet girl that is a little of me and little of her daddy. It is so cool to watch her grow a personality and be so much like both of us. I have also loved getting to know other moms around Charlotte. Life changes with children and support is wonderful.
Could not live without my…
That is a really hard one. The first thing that comes to mind is my blackberry, then my iPad, but I could survive without those because I did at one point before I had them. But, my morning coffee…now that would be hard to do. Even when I was pregnant, I had to drink half decaf and half regular. I always need a little caffeine to get my day started.