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Chaparral 2019-2020: 28.5 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 (ssomo@glendale.edu; jgamberg@glendale.edu)

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"Since we are celebrating 13 years at GCC, we decided to celebrate that lucky coincidence."

MARIA KRETZMANN

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

MARIA

I started at GCC in Spring 2007, so 13 years now. I am a professor in the Biology division, teaching both majors and non-majors, as well as a co-director of the Baja California Field Studies Program. I love teaching both groups of students with different educational goals and interests, and among my favorite parts of the job is the opportunity for inspiring students about the natural world at our field station.

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

MARIA

Our division is small and cohesive, and we are very much aligned on holding students to high standards and preparing them well for a successful transfer experience. During this difficult period of transition to remote teaching and learning, many of us have had our eyes opened to teaching techniques we may have been reluctant to embrace in the past, that may in fact be useful when we do go back to face-to-face instruction.

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? 

MARIA

One thing that our division (and perhaps all of us on campus) could do better is to forge stronger connections and collaborations with other divisions. This is especially important when coordinating course scheduling so that our science majors can fulfill their demanding requirements for transfer in a timely fashion at GCC. Perhaps campus leadership could help actively foster this collaboration across divisions.

Bonus Question: When did you know that you wanted to teach? What was your first class like?

MARIA

I pretty much knew I wanted to be a biologist since I was a little kid grubbing around in the dirt, and after my first official class in 8th grade, it was confirmed. I thought about a medical career, but got turned off with all the crazy pre-med hysteria in college. Then I thought I would go into research (and I still miss that a little), but during grad school I found a lot of joy in the classroom as a TA, and got some positive feedback from students. I still didn't think I would go for full-time teaching (I was thinking more educational outreach from a research/conservation organization) but got my first full-time job at Southampton College on the east end of Long Island, which was primarily teaching with a small research expectation. My first day was 9/11/2001 (in NY!). Very memorable… I didn't know any better so I just kept talking for my entire first 3 classes that day (after checking in to see that students and their families were OK). 

Final Reflection:

I was so happy to finally meet Ann "face-to-face"! I've been so impressed with her skill in helping us to market the Baja Program over the years, and we talked about all kinds of things, including personal stories, silos on campus (thanks for helping us break them down) and even (yes) guided pathways. Cheers, Maria

ANN SIMON

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

ANN

I, too, have been here 13 years! I was hired part-time in March 2007 as a Publications Specialist. I am now the Graphic Designer in the Office of Communications and Community Relations. The majority of my work is focused around developing marketing materials for the college as a whole and the individual areas. The challenge to think creatively within certain parameters is so fun! The question of how do you make something exciting within the confines of certain rules—that I helped create!—really excites me. Creative problem solving is my jam. 

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

ANN

The Office of Communications and Community Relations is here to help! Really! And, we are only as good as the information we are given. If something awesome is happening in your area, we want to know! Our office is filled with amazing experts in different areas and we can find the right channel to get the information out, but let us know. 

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? 

ANN

It goes back to just letting us know about what's going on. For us, moving towards being student-centric means that we need to share more stories that focus on students—current and potential—on topics that they can relate to. So, if anyone has a great story to share, the Office of Communications wants to hear about it.

Bonus question: What is the biggest joy and/or challenge about your job at GCC?

ANN

I love what I do! One of the best parts about being on the communications end of things are all of the stories I get to read and the students I get to meet. The mission of the community college is so unique and the students are a reminder of why I wanted to work in higher education. I am always in awe of their effort and tenacity. And, I get to be a part of the team that communicates what an incredible place GCC is. How lucky am I?

Final Reflection:

Thank you, Julie and Sandy, for pairing me up with Maria. We have emailed in the past, but have never spoken face-to-face and this was a great opportunity to learn more about her both as a colleague and human. And thank you, Maria, for taking the time to speak with me.

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