At the Heart of Who I Am

I have often said, “At the heart of who I am, I am a teacher.” While I am privileged and humbled to serve as the 8th president of GCC, I recognize it is my many years of teaching mathematics that have given me the foundation to do the work of the presidency. It is my belief in students and our community and our ability to make a difference in their life everyday that drives me to commit to this noble work.

When I think back over the 23 years I taught mathematics, there are a myriad of memories that come to mind. As a young 23 year old, it was a bit overwhelming knowing that I was responsible for teaching 7th grade mathematics at the same school I had graduated from 10 years earlier. The connections I was able to make with students remind me how our words and actions matter even when we don’t realize it. Thank goodness for Facebook and for former students being able to find me. I recently had lunch with a student from that first class. This young man was brilliant then and brilliant today, he talked way too much then and often landed himself in trouble, and he is talkative today and uses those skills in his career as a leader with FedEx. It was humbling to connect with a student from 32 years ago!

I also have great memories of my time teaching high school mathematics and serving as a club advisor for the Ski Club. Taking groups of students from South Phoenix, many of whom had never seen the snow, on ski trips to Colorado and Utah, created many great memories that we still laugh about today. I’ll never forget the trip to Utah, for many students this was their first plane trip. The students were excited and as we were getting ready to taxi down the runway, one of our students, John, found the barf bag in the seat pocket in front of him. Being curious about this flat paper bag, he stuck his hand inside…Just as the plane was starting to move, he yelled out to the flight attendant, “Hey Lady, Hey Lady!” and held up his hand covered in barf! He was told he would have to sit tight until we reached cruising altitude.

The 16 years I spent teaching at South Mountain Community College brought so many more opportunities with students. As the advisor for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, I traveled with students around the country to attend national conferences. I taught a range of ages, 18 – 83, and each and every one of these students taught me something about how to teach and how to stay flexible as their lives were complicated, yet they were committed to their education and just wanted someone to be committed back to them. My years at SMCC taught me to challenge myself with new techniques, new technology, and planted the seed for being able to make a difference in our community, because at the heart of who I am, I am a teacher.

 

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