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Chaparral 2022-2023: 31.1 Reaching Across: Building Bridges with Colleagues

Reaching Across: Building Bridges with Colleagues

by Julie Gamberg and Sandy Somo

In this column, employees of Glendale College with different roles engage in dialogue about their departments/divisions, as well as thoughts about a more student-centered campus. Partners are given the same three questions to ask one another, and the option of additional questions and/or taking a selfie together. If you are interested in participating in this dialogue, please feel free to email Sandy Somo or Julie Gamberg.

Tzoler Oukayan and Reut Cohen
(pictured: above, Tzoler Oukayan; below, Reut Cohen)

How long have you been at GCC and what do you do here?

TZOLER: GCC has been a part of my life for over 20 years. Had it not been for the opportunities afforded to me as a student here, I don’t think I would have ended up in education. I have worked at GCC for 15 years, serving as the Student Activities Coordinator, Program Manager of Student Outreach Services, and today, Dean of Student Affairs. In my current role, I provide support and oversight of eight college departments.

What do you wish people knew about your department or division that you think they might not totally understand?

TZOLER: Student engagement and connections outside of our classrooms are critical in a student’s success at our college. This is how many of my team members started their journey at GCC when they were students. Through our various services and programs, we help students find communities of support, create meaningful connections, provide opportunities for campus engagement, and help transition and retain students. Student Affairs programs have a lot of opportunities for faculty and staff to help aid in these connections. We would love for you to join us at these opportunities.

When you think about our movement toward a more student-centered campus, how can the rest of the campus be more supportive of your department/division?

TZOLER: Our team organizes and coordinates many events for student engagement throughout the year. What is critical to the student’s experience is also the connection with colleagues across the college. I would love to see more faculty, staff, and administrators attend and engage with our students at college events. This is where we can make a difference in the student experience. Students are not only looking for peer connection, but they are also eager for mentorship and support. No matter what role we have, or what office we serve in, we have an opportunity and responsibility to make a difference in our students' experience. I would love to see more of us present at student-oriented events and activities. Join us for a volleyball game in the gym or walk Club Rush and say hi to the students. Everything we do matters and is appreciated by students.

Reflection

TZOLER: Reut truly cares about the student experience and providing the unique opportunity available through the El Vaquero. I was impressed to learn how much time she gives to each student in her classes as they learn and experience the intricacies of publications. Pre-pandemic, she would be on campus past midnight helping students meet deadlines and process the El Vaquero publication. I did not realize how much of the El Vaquero was student work, based on students' interest. This was awesome and impressive to learn, especially since Reut is a one-person department on campus. This speaks volumes to her care and love for GCC and our students. Not everyone would be able to do this as she has.

How long have you been at GCC and what do you do here?

REUT: I've been at Glendale College since August 2013. I teach in the Journalism program, which is under the purview of Language Arts. I'm the only full-time instructor in the program and oversee publication of El Vaquero and The Insider, which are two publications that are part of the program. I am also co-founder of the GCC Pulitzer Center Consortium. Many of my colleagues know me from C&I as well.

What do you wish people knew about your department or division that you think they might not totally understand?

REUT: A lot of times, people assume that the publications that are part of my program are a full-time endeavor themselves with a large dedicated staff. That's a compliment. However, I wish people understood that though it may feel that way for me a lot of what comes out of Journalism is purely student assignments in my classes and my time working to teach students how to put together a print publication. So much of what is being done is voluntarily, and I truly love my students and the college so I try to go the extra mile(s). Just treat us gently—we want to cover so much on campus, but we (I) are (am) limited sometimes.

When you think about our movement toward a more student-centered campus, how can the rest of the campus be more supportive of your department/division?

REUT: Visibility of my department and willingness to collaborate is always key. I think it will be helpful to share that our program exists and that we are here to serve and support students under my division and department. I love collaborating and I think that's one of the reasons Journalism enrollment has grown so much since I've been here.

Reflection

REUT: In meeting Tzoler (Dr. Oukayan), I was struck (and impressed!) with how much is under her administration—some six or seven departments. Tzoler truly loves being in Education and understands how special GCC is. I will also note that she is a dean and incredibly busy, and yet prioritized this lovely collaborative exercise. She is so calm and collected, and knowledgeable about so much that the college has to offer. I also thought that it's amazing she is a former GCC student herself and has been working at the college for 15 years. She clearly loves the students she supports and speaks so highly of the managers she works with. My key takeaway from our conversation is that GCC is filled with staff, administrators and faculty that simply love the college and treat those they serve with incredible compassion. Tzoler is an amazing example of that.

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