Welcome to my ePortfolio. This is an opportunity for you to get to know me as person, a scholar, a community member and contributor. First and foremost, I would describe myself as a world traveler, a lover of nature and a lifelong learner. This is inherent in who I am, as I am happiest when I feel free. There are two quotes by writer, Lillian Smith that inspire me and reflect my thoughts related to travel, nature and learning:
“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within."
"When you stop learning, stop listening, stop looking and asking questions, always new questions, then it is time to die."
In addition to freedom, another of my core values is "making a difference," whether it be within my family or in my community. For this reason, I chose to become a counselor and a professor.
My most important life roles revolve around family and community. I am a mother, wife and daughter, as well as a counselor and teacher. My parents were first generation college students, who instilled in me the belief that I could do and be anything I wanted to be. I am honored to be raising two boys with my wife/life partner of 26 years. My family challenges me to be vulnerable and to be present in their lives every day. My oldest son and I were playing "How well do you know me?" and I asked him if he knew my favorite thing to do. His answer was "spend time with me and my brother?" It wasn't the answer I expected, but it is a true reflection of my priorities.
National Conference on Race and Ethnicity 2015
Mesa and Me
An important experience that continues to reflect my engagement with Mesa College was my attendance at the the the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE) during summer 2015 in Washington D.C. This conference left a lasting impression on me. I listened to students and colleagues talk about painful experiences with microaggressions and overt racism. I evaluated myself as a professor, understanding that while I have the experience of being a lesbian and a woman, I have tremendous privilege as a White person, who grew up with two college-educated parents. The conference energized me and helped me to further conceive my class in terms of culture and identity - something I am still exploring and integrating. I coordinated production of the above video that is still used to encourage faculty participation in this annual conference.
Another experience is taking the lead in our department meetings with the focus on best practices with students and our diverse student population. These photos depict a puzzle that my colleague Dr. Judy Sundayo and I created to help counselors in considering their experience with various students both personally and professionally. I still use the puzzle occasionally in department meetings.
important people and resources
Community of Support
I have always thought it was a spectacular way to spend your time. I remember in my 20's walking by universities and it was almost like a feeling in the air - that sense of all those people who were learning things and getting ready to put them into practice. - Leroy Johnson
Many mentors have supported me as a counselor and professor at Mesa College, but Leroy Johnson, Counseling Department Chair, is the first to come to mind. He has been an important colleague and friend and has always encouraged me to be the best that I could be. When I began to think about counseling full-time, he took me under his wing and arranged some observations for me. These experiences prepared me for both the interview and in joining this wonderful department. We have hiked mountains together, as we both love the outdoors. I had the honor of officiating at his wedding. Even though we both have numerous commitments, we make an effort to check-in with one another to see how each is doing. He continues to inspire me.
Mt. Whitney hike
Important Campus Resources
There are two campus resources that have had the greatest impact on my college experience this semester. They are the LOFT (Learning Opportunities For Transformation) on the 4th floor of the Learning Resource Center (LRC) and my colleagues in Counseling. The LOFT is a space for faculty collaboration and professional development. I have attended meetings and workshops here, but I have also received great support from the folks who work here, particularly Eva Parrill and Katie Palacios. Katie helped me with the course Learning Guide and Zoom instructions for students.
One accomplishment I am proud of is that I have chaired the Personal Growth (PERG) Work Group for the past three years. We are a Counseling department committee that focuses on building a community of practice for PERG faculty through curriculum, team building and professional development. We strive to continuously improve learning outcomes for the students in our courses, especially those students that experience disproportionate impact in their other courses.
PERG Faculty Retreat fall 2017
An experience that has made me feel less successful is related to curriculum design for PERG 110. It is a class that I created for a specific student population (transitioning high school students); yet it needs to appeal to a larger audience to meet department enrollment targets. Also, about a quarter of students struggle with the assignments required for the class. I continue to work on ways to make the class accessible to all students by improving they way that I teach the class and by seeking feedback from students and other faculty.
I have learned that teaching, learning and curriculum development are dynamic and an instructor has one of the most important roles in her students' success. I am happiest when I feel that I am making a difference. Building relationships with students, faculty and staff, as well as developing a sense of community in and out of the classroom are most important to me. Two success strategies that I rely on every day are: self advocacy and seeking out resources (help seeking). I try to never let anything get in the way of my success and the success of my students. I have a basic "don't take no for an answer" philosophy and I endeavor to impart this same philosophy for my students, whether appealing a university admissions denial or obtaining necessary resources in support of a short or long term goal.
career and educational pathway
While in graduate school, I found myself drawn to LGBT issues. This was before I knew I was a Lesbian. I interviewed Gay men who were Deaf and wrote research papers about their experiences. From this humble start, came the roots of my activism. I took care of a close friend who succumbed to AIDS in the 90's. I was the first in the college district to demand domestic partner benefits and I was able to garner the support to receive them.
When the Marriage Equality movement gained momentum, my partner, Wendy and I were among the thousands who were granted marriage licenses before the court annulled them. I created a video for YouTube about my experience and because of my openness, I was sought out and interviewed by reporters. I was actively engaged in the campaign to defeat Prop 8. I testified before the San Diego City Council affirming their affidavit of support and I sponsored panels and discussions on campus.
August 2008: Legal marriage to my life partner of 15 years
Grasping the Ring, Youtube, 2008
My parents, Mary and Harry
I majored in Physiology because I thought it was the right major for Medical School. If I had it to do again, I probably would have chosen Art, Religious Studies or Psychology - all were favorite elective subjects. My experiences while in college brought me to where I am today. I remember three key moments that lead me to pursue Counseling as a career:
I had an American Sign Language teacher who told me I would make a great counselor or teacher
I tutored a friend through organic chemistry and helped her to graduate
I convinced a friend to return to school after a traumatic experience
Pursuing higher education was never optional in my family. I knew I was going to go to college from my earliest memories. My mother's parents didn't finish high school and didn't have the means to send her to college, so she applied for and received a full scholarship to University of Florida. The one condition was that she could only pursue elementary education or nursing. She chose the former and was an elementary school teacher until she met my father. My father's parents met in a bank, as my grandmother was a teller and my grandpa was the bank manager. My father attended college on a ROTC scholarship and graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Science. This did influence me to choose Berkeley and I was fortunate to be accepted there as a Freshman.
Campanile and view of San Francisco from Cal
My education plan reflects who I am as a traveler and a lifelong learner. My goal is to be fluent in Spanish. SPAN 202 is my one remaining course at Mesa College to complete my Certificate of Achievement.
The theme of my career path is my enduring belief in my own value and that of my students, colleagues and community. I actively work towards equity for all students and this means, as a faculty member, I put myself under a microscope to examine what I am doing to help or hinder students every day. Sometimes I get flack for my vocal advocacy, but I consider all criticism an opportunity for personal growth. To be an advocate is to put oneself out there every day, whether appreciated or not. This is NOT for the faint of heart.