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My family came to Orange County California from Lubbock Texas in the 1940s. Seven made the trip in a 1930s Pontiac, including my grandparents, Samuel Price and Fannie Byrdie Scott, my mother Melba, her first husband Paul and my oldest sister Velda, less than a year old at the time, and my mom’s youngest brother and sister Bob and Francis. My grandfather had served as the county supervisor in Lubbock. After losing an election he turned to farming, which did not serve the family very well. My oldest uncle and other relatives had already moved to California so the family ventured out with all of their possessions wrapped in cotton sacks tied to the top of their car - definitely a Grapes of Wrath story. Once in California everyone got jobs, even my 11 year old uncle.
My uncle eventually graduated from Fullerton Junior College and retired several years ago as District Superintendent for World Missions for the Church of the Nazarene. When I asked him what he remembered about his experience at FJC he said he remembered having a really pretty teacher in the 300 building.
I was born more than 10 years later. We lived in Buena Park and I attended Buena Park High School. I stopped out of high school and got married at a young age and eventually earned my high school diploma. I was a stay at home mom until my first son was old enough for pre-school. I then decided I wanted to attend college, so I enrolled at Cypress. I had no idea what I wanted to do or how the college system worked so after attending only one semester, I again stopped out of school. I had another son and when he was old enough for preschool I enrolled at Fullerton College at the urging of my oldest sister. I feel blessed to this day that on my first visit to Fullerton College someone in the Financial Aid Office referred me to a specific Counselor by the name of Mary Shaw. Mary worked with students, primary women, who were returning to school after a break from high school. I was about 30 years old at the time.
During our first counseling session when Mary asked me what I wanted to do I told her I didn't know. I wasn't very confident, but I was driven and capable. I had never liked going to school and wasn't sure I would ever graduate so I told Mary that I wanted to take a speech class in case I didn't finish and had to talk my way into a good paying job. I've always been pragmatic and was always a good student, an overachiever, but I'd generally found school boring and people at schools unsupportive. That changed when I enrolled at Fullerton College and took a speech class with Noel Gilbert. He was one of the kindest, most supportive teachers I'd ever had.
When I enrolled at FC I also enrolled my youngest son in the wonderful pre-school program at the college. My oldest son was in kindergarten at the time. I was never involved in extracurricular activities at the college because it was all I could do to attend class, do my homework and take care of my family. I initially enrolled as a Business major because I thought it would be beneficial to my husband since he and his parents owned a business. Then I took an Introduction to Broadcasting class with Paul Kelly and changed my major to communications. Paul was an amazing teacher!
I eventually transferred to Chapman University to study Communications with an emphasis in Television and Film. Two years later I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and graduated magna cum laude with departmental honors. I decided to stay at Chapman and complete a master's degree but I changed my major to Counseling with an emphasis in Career Counseling, perhaps inspired by Mary Shaw. Again I graduated with honors.
I began working part-time at Santa Ana College and eventually got offered a job as a full-time instructor in the Counseling Division at Cypress College. Six years later I was selected to be the Interim and then permanent Dean of Academic Services at Fullerton College. It was a surreal experience introducing myself for the first time in a Dean's meeting to Dean Bob Jensen who years earlier had been one of my teachers for an Introduction to Theater class at Fullerton College. As Dean of Academic Services I am especially proud to have had the opportunity to produce the film Mendez v. Westminster: Families for Equality, written and directed by Erica Bennett. I also am proud to have recorded guest lecturers on campus such as Leon Leyson, the youngest survivor on Schlinder's List and Jack and Elaine LaLanne, among others.
A few years ago a new college president made the decision to eliminate the Dean of Academic Services position. This was very difficult for me, but he selected me to serve as Interim Dean of Natural Sciences for one year. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, as it gave me the opportunity to work with so many bright and devoted faculty and staff. Last year I returned to a faculty position at the college, and for the first time in my career I am working as a full-time counselor. Interestingly, my office is next door to the office where I sat with Mary Shaw who counseled me many years earlier.
Today I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Communications and a Master of Arts degree from Chapman University, as well as a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the California State University Fullerton. I have grown beyond what I could have imagined when I first stepped on to the Fullerton College campus. It is my desire that every student who comes to Fullerton College be cordially greeted by someone like the person I met in the Financial Aid Office and gets a teacher as kind and supportive as Mr. Gilbert and finds a counselor as devoted as Mary Shaw.
This semester my youngest son and my cousin’s granddaughter are taking classes at Fullerton College.
The advice that I give to students is to always do your best despite your circumstances, ask for help when you need it, get involved in campus and community events whenever you can, and NEVER give up.
What keeps me going is this...I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11-13 New English Translation (NET)