How did you end up teaching Psychology?

My journey to teaching Psychology was not a straightforward one.  I cannot say that I grew up planning to be a Psychologist.  Even though I was raised in Toronto, Canada, mine was a stereotypical Asian household in which my siblings and I were encouraged to either go into medicine or engineering.  I had grandiose plans to be a pediatrician and even volunteered for several years as a “candy striper.”  All those plans were sidetracked when I ended up being a teen mom.

As a result, I actually consider being a parent my first career because I have been a mother literally my entire adult life.  When I moved to California with my then-husband and two children, I had nothing more than a high-school education, no work experience, and, unbeknownst to me, no legal immigration status.  I took classes at EVC at the urging of my parents and against my then-husband’s permission.  Retrospectively, I see that I was extremely vulnerable like too many women in similar situations.

EVC will always have a special place in my heart because there were many people at EVC who mentored, supported, and helped me through a very challenging time in my life when I suddenly found myself an illegal immigrant and single parent just trying to survive.  It was only because I had incredible professors who believed in me that I was even able to graduate from EVC summa cum laude in 2000.

Shortly afterward, I worked at Sun Microsystems as a UNIX System Administrator.  When my job was outsourced, I trained to be a financial advisor.  It did not take me long, once I worked in the industry, to realize that it did not suit me at all.

After much soul-searching, I realized that teaching others was what brought me the greatest joy in these disparate industries, whether it was about their computer systems or personal finances.  This is what led me to go back to EVC and take the Psychology courses I needed to transfer to San Jose State University (SJSU) and complete my bachelor’s degree in psychology.

During this time, I remarried and became a mom to a beautiful baby girl.  Just before I transferred to SJSU, I was in an accident that left me with three ruptured discs in my lower vertebrae.  I was on crutches for six months and even had to use a wheelchair.  With unwavering support from my husband, I graduated from SJSU with a 4.0 and was accepted into the Developmental Psychology Doctoral program at UC Santa Cruz on a Cota Robles Fellowship.  Shortly after I started working at EVC as an associate faculty member, I completed my Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology.

What is your role at EVC now?

I am now a tenure-track faculty member who just completed my second year. Being a full-time faculty member at EVC is absolutely priceless to me.  I make a special effort to support and accommodate my students who are parents and struggling to complete their education and improve their lives.  I know from personal experience that we need to reach out and encourage those young single moms, not write them off.  All of our students have promise – it is our job as faculty members to help them reach that potential as much as possible.

In addition to my teaching duties, I have been EVC’s Student Learning Outcome (SLO) Coordinator since Summer 2019.  This has been an enjoyable experience with meeting challenges and having the rare opportunity to work with faculty from all departments and divisions, administrators, and classified professionals.

I have also been fortunate to have served in numerous committees, such as the Distance Education Committee, Guided Pathways, the All-College Curriculum Committee, and now the Budget Committee.  These roles have provided me with increased understanding and insight with regard to how our college functions and consequently, how I can better serve our students.

Tell us a little about your life outside of EVC.

I have been happily married to Henry Estrada (a Computer Science faculty member at EVC), for almost 20 years. We have a wonderfully blended family in which we share one daughter together along with my two sons from my previous marriage and his son and daughter from his previous marriage.  All five of our children have attended classes at EVC/SJCC as part of their academic journey.  In fact, three of them were students in the ACCEL Middle College program here at EVC.

Henry and I have recently become EVC students again by taking both EDIT and KINS classes together.  Our family time usually consists of game nights, action movies, and traveling.  This past year, we visited Paris, Venice, and Rome.  We will be heading to New York, Toronto, and London this summer.

When I first moved to California and became a single parent, I could never have imagined that my life would be like this now.  I feel so blessed and deeply value and appreciate the stability and flexibility that teaching at EVC has brought to our lives.

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