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The extraordinary journey that brought me to Fullerton College in 1986 is quintessentially American. My parents migrated from Oklahoma in 1952 along Route 66 from Oklahoma City, my father at the wheel, my mother at his side expecting her second child (me), and my older brother not yet one year old. They were coming to California, along with thousands of other “Dust Bowl” Okies, looking for a better life. I was born in 1953, in Huntington Park, and lived at various places in southern California as my father went from job to job throughout my childhood.
One of my earliest memories is that of my brother’s first day of kindergarten in Chula Vista. My mother walked my two brothers (one older and one younger), me, and my baby sister in a stroller, to my brother’s first day of kindergarten. I dove in head first when we arrived, stacking the blocks, finger painting, playing. At the end of the family visit time, we were asked by the teacher to leave. My brother clung to my mother and cried to go home. I cried to stay.
Thus began my love for and involvement with education. My journey included 7 different elementary and secondary schools, a community college, Cal State Fullerton (BA and MA), and UCLA for my doctorate. Any success or achievement I have attained in my life can be traced directly to California’s public schools. That includes my arrival at Fullerton College.
In 1986, I had completed studies for my BA in mathematics, with the intention of teaching at the high school level. A friend informed me of an opportunity to teach part time at Fullerton College. Times being what they were, I accepted. What began as an adjunct assignment teaching a single Beginning Algebra class at a college I knew very little about, evolved into a full time position with the Mathematics and Computer Science Division in 1989 at what I came to know as an institution of the highest quality. I taught all levels of mathematics for the next 9 years. During this time, I represented faculty as a negotiator and president of United Faculty, I served as a division representative on the Faculty Senate, and I also served as a member of both College and District level planning and budget committees.
Subsequent to the unexpected retirement of our Division Dean, Mr. Bob Moon, in 1998, I applied for and was offered the position of Dean of the Division. I served in that capacity for 9 years. I had the privilege during this time of also serving interim assignments as Dean of Business/CIS, and Dean of Natural Sciences. It was during this time that the College was transformed with building projects that addressed the needs of a growing community. I participated in the successful campaign for Measure X, phone banking and advocating for passage. In the aftermath of voter approval, we saw the completion of a new Library and Learning Resource Center that also housed a restructured Math Lab, a new classroom office building to accommodate our Social Sciences Division, a new parking structure, and many other facilities Improvements. It was a very exciting time to be a Hornet.
I will remain forever grateful for my time at Fullerton College and for the friendships I developed over the years. My experiences as a Hornet were truly life changing. I was prepared to accept appointment first as the Executive Vice President, and now as the 11th President, at Cypress College because of my experiences at Fullerton College. I am very proud of all that Fullerton College has achieved, and in knowing that in some small degree, I had the great good fortune to be able to contribute to the vital and ongoing work of the College.