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I am now full-time in Ethnic Studies and adjunct in Child Development and Educational Studies (since 1993). I teach the Chican@/Latin@ Studies area, primarily w/in the Ethnic Studies Dept. I also team-teach the Anti-Bias Perspective Seminar out of the Child Development and Educational Studies area w/ Chris Lamm. (Have been doing that w/ Chris for the last 40 semesters). For a period of 10 years, I also taught the Survey of American History, HIST 127 and served as Chair of the History Dept. When I first started teaching at FC, I was split between the Social Sciences Division and Humanities. I taught courses in Spanish, ESL, and Reading out of that Division.

My first official duty day at Fullerton College was September 6, 1973. I was also teaching part of load at Cypress College that year. I am planning to retire at the end of this academic year, 2013.

What brought you or your family to Fullerton or Orange County?

My family was forced to locate to OC from Los Angeles in 1964 as our neighborhood was demolished soon after the neighborhood in Chavez Ravine was to make way for Dodger Stadium. My neighborhood was to become part of the expansion of the Bunker Hill Towers Project and we were pushed out under the guise of “eminent domain”. In truth, the Bunker Hills Towers never made their way to my old Alpine neighborhood. Our properties were sold off to small speculators for far less than they were worth. We settled in Cypress, in a new housing tract off of Bloomfield and Spring Streets, almost across from the Los Alamitos Race Track but closer to a dairy farm! This was all before there was a 605 FWY, or anything like a freeway came very near to our new place. OC and especially Cypress were so different from my old haunts that I found it terribly difficult to sleep at night (too dark and so quiet the crickets would drive me crazy!) I never knew where Fullerton was or that there was a Fullerton until I had to drive here for the interview. Since settling in Cypress (from ’64-’73) we only drove N or S, either to LA or as far S to Ensenada to visit relatives. Driving E was never contemplated. Fullerton was such a new and different experience to me when I first came upon it. Luckily, my first best friend here became Violet Ayon (now the District Chancellor’s Administrative Assistant) who was related to most of Fullerton and its surrounding communities!

Explain why you chose to work at Fullerton College.

Actually, Fullerton chose me. I was literally called by the Placement Office at Cal State Long Beach regarding a position that would require the development of curriculum and subsequent teaching of same in the area of Chican@ Studies (in which I had the equivalent of a major when I graduated). Students and community members had protested and demanded the campuses (at both Fullerton and Cypress) to create courses addressing their Identity, History, culture, literature, etc., as had already been established at other colleges and universities around California and elsewhere (as part of the on-going Civil Rights struggle). Originally, as stated above, I was given a split assignment between Fullerton College and Cypress Colleges but I was later given the opportunity the place where I would like to continue my service in the District. I chose Fullerton College despite the greater distance from my home primarily because of the fast and warm friendships I developed working out of the program that eventually became the model for the statewide EOPS Programs. They were and still remain my friends and members of my extended family!

In what areas of college life were/are you engaged?

I have made an effort to be engaged in as many areas of the college as possible during my tenure. In doing so I found it to be the most effective way to learn how things got done around here (every place has its own culture), but most importantly, I was able to grow the size of my professional /campus family. This became crucial as the college truly became my home away from home. I have specifically participated in the academic life of the college through my participation and leadership in the Faculty Senate (including planning, budget, governance of the college and the District); Curriculum Committee (over 12 years and later as Alternate), Staff Development Committee (over the years since the 1980s when we began looking for a Center where Faculty and all Staff could develop their teaching as well as content skills and knowledge, among other things); serving on numerous Hiring and Tenure Review Committees as we sought to bring “new blood”, grew or needed to replace retiring colleagues; serving on both the Campus and District Affirmative Action Committees and more recently Diversity Committees (seeking to match and add talented and professional peers to our campus and district communities who reflected the various needs and composition of our students). Over the years, I have also served in various capacities on several Accreditation Committees and reviews. With particular respect to students and student-life, I have been engaged in and continue to be involved in such activities and committees as: EOPS Advisory Committee (past), Student Equity Committee, Student Success Committee, Fullerton College Food Bank Collaborative Committee, Men and Women of Distinction Committee (past), Student Success Summits Task Force and Student Success Summits I, II and II (past), PUENTE Mentor (for 20 years), UMOJA Advisory Committee, Faculty Advisor to: M.E.Ch.A. (since 1973), Latina Leadership Student Network Club (since its inception), DREAM Club (since its inception), Future Teachers’ Club (past), Indigenous Peoples of the Americas Club (past). It is in engaging in these activities that I am better able to engage my own students in the classroom, in their campus life and in our surrounding college community as well as continue to work to bridge the gaps that exist between the needs of the student/s and the service/s rendered by the college.

Describe what the college was/is like and your principal interests during your year(s) at the college.

My first interview was held in what used to be the S.T.A.P. Office (pre-EOPS) in a remnant military barrack portable from WWII in what is now the C lot, off of Lemon St. In that small space was the office of the Director, his Assistant, their Secretary, the Coordinator of the early Tutoring Center, the earliest version of the Fullerton College Foundation Office where the recently retired Dr. Schiller would work, “SERIOUSLY” and his two assistants (who also were the earliest version of our Financial Aid Office, and what would eventually become my first office space, too. When I looked around the campus there were very few people of color, and if there were they were usually students. I do vividly remember, Ms. Irma Rodriguez, the Director of Student Affairs and who would years later be promoted to Dean of A & R when the 200 building was built. The A & R Office back when I arrived is what now serves as 117 and 119. The Counseling Department was where we now find the Campus Switchboard and the Public Relations Officer. The Bookstore was where the DSS and Mailroom are now located.

It wasn’t much fun standing really long lines to go into a very tiny space full of people at the beginning of the fall semester, especially when there was no air conditioning! The little brick building that housed the Student Center sat where the very impressive Campus Library sits now. The Quad was much larger than it is now and there were many more trees, the huge flowering Magnolias and Eucalyptus, not to be out-done by the Fullerton College Hornet!

We all ate in what now seems the terribly small (but very cozy) Staff Dining Room where, indeed, we ALL (faculty, classified and administrators) ate side by side around the same table, shared our families, projects, news, ideas, etc. with each other…just like a FAMILLY. We ate home-cooked meals of the kitchen staffs’ favorite recipes…my favorite was the Java plate. I remember that Dr. Borst’s was the Spanish Paella. Of course, one could always order a hamburger, hot dog or grilled cheese sandwich from the Students’ grill too, if we were in the mood.

There were no fees assessed to students with the exception of the $7 Health Fee and the “hefty” $20 Parking Fee (and yes, already then there was no guarantee you could find any parking).

Probably one of the most difficult aspects of my first years here had to do with the fact that there were very few full-time female faculty members, especially in Social Sciences. In fact, Amy Stump, who was very close to her retirement as Dean of Social Sciences, interviewed me. The only other female member in that division was Consorcia “Toci” Donovan, who I found out was beginning a year-long sabbatical the very semester I was beginning. I had just turned 25 the year before and was in a Division of very seasoned and extremely intimidating tenured male faculty! I was so very happy when Arienne Turner was hired in Economics (I believe it was the year or two later)! I remember swearing to myself that I would NEVER say a word at a Division meeting…EVER! Obviously, that wore off over time.

The most painful of my experiences here, however, had to do with my identity. Most would ask such things as “So, what are you?” After sorting through some questions it was made clear that they were asking was what might be my racial and ethnic background. They always said something like I didn’t look Mexican and I certainly didn’t act like one, despite that on more than one occasion they would admit that I was the only one they had ever really met, after I questioned them. But it was going to the Women’s Staff Restrooms where it really was bad. It never failed that if they saw me in one, they would immediately go back to open the door, look at the sign very diligently (so I would notice what they were doing) and as I continued to wash my hands, or comb my hair, etc. someone would usually say, “Did you know you are in the STAFF Restroom? The students’ restroom is next door or in the next building.” To that I would say, “Yes, I know. I can read.” After that they would reply, “Oh, are you a new secretary? What department?” “No”, I’d say, “I’m faculty.” “Really? Oh you must be a new part-timer…never saw you before.” To that I’d say, “No, not that either…FULL-TIME, actually!”

Then they would have to rush out for something or other, or simply close off any further conversation. I remained a shock to many for a few years. Later, at the birth of any of my children, the only campus announcements that were ever made or celebrated came from my colleagues in the EOPS Offices. My sons really grew up on this campus though, spending inordinate hours in the President’s Office, the Senate Office, the Division Office and, yes, even the Chancellor’s Office and the District Bd. Room.

During your time at Fullerton College, who were people you had friendships with, were inspired by, or in some way made a difference in your time here, and why?

I would have to say that some of the most important and inspiring people who supported me along the way were people such as Richard Ramirez, who placed the call and took a chance to hire me (despite the fact I had no idea of where Fullerton was.) His was a kindred spirit who had a real interest in serving students and his community, among other things. My retired friend and colleague “Kiki” Zuniga was another friend who moved mountains, if necessary to provide an opportunity to anyone who was thirsty for an education and would stand up to anyone who would stand in the way. From him I also learned that words without action are meaningless. I continue to be inspired by my now “Comadre” Violet Ayon who was and still is the best Ambassador and Guide that an L.A. outsider could ever have to maneuver and understand the O.C. Besides, she could always make me laugh, even through the most painful moments! I am also grateful to my friends and mentors, Dave Ibsen and Joel Hail, who introduced me to my Faculty voice. I was through their alliance and guidance that I learned what it meant to be a stakeholder within the broader campus community as well as the use my professional compass when navigating the often murky waters of governance in Academia. With respect to the power of partnership and alliance, I must say that Chris Lamm has traveled many of the same roads with me, especially over the last very bumpy decade. I have tremendous respect for her due diligence; above and beyond what most have been willing to do to address many of the same inequities and struggles that students and staff alike have encountered during our entire tenure. This she has done with resilience and hope and this has truly inspired me to keep on going. Diana Kyle, Karen Rose, the members of my tiny department (mostly adjunct, like Ernie Bridges) who continue to give without compensation or recognition for the tremendous time, energy and commitment to address the gaps (both in opportunity as well as in achievement). They are heroes to me and to their students and communities. I want to also acknowledge the LFSA, especially the members of the Executive who have stood by through some very difficult times and never wavered. I want to recognize the many members of our classified staff Pearl, Mo, Elias, Miguel, Javier, Dolores, Yolanda, Cynthia, Vince and all the rest who have made it possible to do things like Bienvenidos, Dia de los Muertos, KWANZAA, Kindercaminata, Adelante Conferences, and especially the THANKSGIVING FOOD DRIVE and the Food Bank…and everyone who made our classrooms, offices and buildings livable (especially when we had to spend so much time in them)!

What were/are some of the biggest changes or most significant events that took place during your time at the college?

When I first arrived to this campus, there were very few students of color…less than 10%. We are now approximately 70% and of that around 40% are Chican@/Latin@. We are also a Hispanic-Serving Institution, technically speaking. Well over 50% of our student body is receiving or is eligible to receive Financial Aid. Many of our students travel here from many areas of Southern CA and many of our students are well beyond what was the median age of 19. We are no longer fighting in Vietnam, though we are still doing battle in Afghanistan. The majority of full-time tenured faculty in the Social Sciences Division is Female today. We all have private telephones on our desks and don’t have to telephone in the hall corridor. We no longer have to use ditto and mimeograph machines for copies or even need copies, if we use the GATEWAY or Blackboard. We have a Cadena-Transfer Center, though it stills needs campus support to address the many Multicultural needs of such a diverse student body on what still is an institutionally white campus…Despite the tremendous growth in the number of students of color over the years, we do have a PUENTE Program (since 1992) that offers the opportunity to 30-35 students per year, despite local and statewide success. We have had a couple of female College Presidents but we have yet to hire an Academic Dean of color in any division in the 100 years since this school opened. I was also the last full-time faculty member hired in my department since 1973! Some things do change, while unfortunately others don’t.

Any other comments, funny stories, and/or recollections of what was happening to you/on campus during major events?

Does that mean I have to tell how many times I have fallen on the college campus, usually in full view of students? — At events such as International Day in the QUAD at high noon when all 20,000 students are mingling around?

What advice do you have for our current students?

I have the same advice for both students and faculty/staff alike…GET INVOLVED! Make the college your home and it will become yours. Once you belong to each other, “it’s magic” and the time just flies!

What impact did your experiences at Fullerton College have on the rest of your life/career and how?

I believe the greatest impact my experiences at FC have had on my life have been passed down to my husband, my sons and my extended family. They know so many people on the campus and the district and have been woven into the very fabric of many of our events and celebrations.

Awards and Honors

Most recently, I have been nominated to be inducted this year into the 20th Annual International Educator’s Hall of Fame at the end of March in Sacramento. I also received a Certificate of Recognition from Senator Lou Correa’s Office as a 2010 Women Making a Difference in Orange County. In 2006 I was awarded the Hispanic Educational Endowment Foundation (HEEF), Apple of Gold Award in recognition of my teaching and service to students. Earlier that year, I was also awarded the Annual Madrina award by the Latina Leadership Network of the California Community Colleges in recognition of Leadership, Mentoring and Support of aspiring Latinas, whether Classified, Certificated or Administrative as well as to the developing Latina students coming through the CCC system. I also served two terms as President of the Fullerton College Faculty Senate (once in the late 1980’s and again in the early 1990’s during the tumultuous beginnings of “Shared Governance” in the CCCs. I was also previously elected to serve on the Board of Governors of the Faculty Association of the California Community Colleges (F.A.C.C.C.) for the Southern region and served on task forces and committees with key legislators, administrators, faculty and students who helped to develop the basic framework for the legislation that became known as AB1725, a breakthrough legislation that was instrumental in moving the CCCs from the umbrella of K-12 in CA. Locally, on my campus, I have been nominated for Teacher of the Year and also a Finalist on several occasions. And, in the 1980s I was awarded a Fullerton College Staff of the Year Award (in the Faculty category). I consider these some of the most memorable while at FC. While serving the N.O.C.C.C.D., I have also served as President of the Latino Faculty and Staff Association since 2002.