PORT ST. LUCIE PEOPLE
Port St. Lucie Magazine 49
Family: Husband, Claude Finch;
sons, C.J., 8; Cayden, 5.
Lives in: Port St. Lucie
Occupation: Director of student
development and College Ombudsman
at Indian River State
Education: Associate of science in legal assisting and associate
of arts in criminal Mustice, Indian 5iver &ommunity
&ollege bachelor of arts in criminal Mustice, )lorida $tlantic
University; master’s degree in public administration, University
of Central Florida
Someone who inspires me: “There are actually two people
who inspired me to dream more, learn more and become
more: my former student government advisor, Dr. Lori
LaCivita, and my grandmother, Marie Russell. Throughout
my college Mourney, /ori encouraged me to take on leadership
roles not only at the college, but in the community and within
the state. And, if it wasn’t for my grandmother, I may never
have found IRCC. Throughout my whole life, my grandmother
has always been my rock, my supporter, my best
friend and my biggest cheerleader.”
Something most people don’t know about me: “Higher education
was not the career I originally intended on pursuing.
When I started college, I wanted to be an attorney.”
sistant director of student involvement and leadership. It was
all in student affairs.”
Besides her mother and two younger siblings back in New
Jersey, she had left behind her high school sweetheart, Claude
Finch, in the move to Florida. It only took him six months before
he had arranged to Moin family in 2rlando. )rom there, the
couple carried on a closer, but still long-distance, relationship
during the five years she was in college, marrying in .
Popp-Finch came to Indian River State College as an
adMunct instructor in and was hired as a fulltime staff
member in the Student $ffairs 2ffice in . 7his is where
she found herself.
“When I came here, I wanted to go to law school,” she says.
“%ut I am all about when you find your passion and live your
purpose, do it. I enMoyed a lot of the things I encountered as
a student in these positions and the leadership roles I undertook
in college. And that’s why I went down this path rather
than into law.
“I have never taken on a leadership role because of the title.
I did so because of the ability to make an impact, the ability to
inÁuence and the ability to inspire others. I am so fortunate to
be in a career I love because when you find your passion, you
live your purpose and never really work a day in your life.
“7hat said, I work until the Mob is done, but the Mob is never
done,” she adds with a laugh.
Mentoring students in building their leadership skills and
helping them rise to their potential is something Popp-Finch
does with ease. She says she has served on the state advisory
board for the )&SS*$ for the past five years. In that time,
about of the student government officers she has worked
with have also served on the student executive board at the
“They are really awesome students and it is exciting to see
them take on these state roles,” she says. “It is a lot of extra
work beyond their studies and what they are doing in student
government on their own campus.
“&urrently, three of the five &&* officers at I5S& are serving
on the state executive board, and that’s pretty cool.”
An organized person, the 37-year-old wife and mother of
two young boys manages to hold down a fulltime Mob and
serve on the board of directors of 7he Inner 7ruth 3roMect, an
organiation helping sexual violence survivors heal, a proMect
near and dear to her heart. She is on the Tools for Schools
committee of the United Way of St. Lucie County and, along
with all of that, she is the Home Room Mom for each of her
son’s classes at Renaissance Charter School of Port St. Lucie.
Popp-Finch says she often thinks back on her years at IRCC
and her student government advisor, Lori LaCivita, adding
that LaCivita was like her “second mom.”
“She always pushed me,” Popp-Finch says. “She saw something
in me. My goal in this position is to push students the
way she pushed me. I have always been a driven individual.”
Popp-Finch has often been lauded for her work on the
state level and at her college. In , she received the %ob
Graham Distinguished Service Advisor award, but last year
she received a very special recognition. She was named to the
Florida College System Activities Association Hall of Fame
for her outstanding contributions and service to its activities
and member institutions as a student leader.
“With the students, I feel like I have come full circle,”
Popp-Finch says. “Now I am giving back to the place that
helped make me become who I am. Even with serving in the
state organization, I saw what it was like from the student
side, and now I know what it is like from the advisor’s side.
It gives you that full perspective and helps you be more effective
in your position.” E
Popp-Finch and Sabby Hightower, vice president of the IRSC Campus
Coalition Government, hang notices for spring semester students in the
Koblegard Student Union.