Fifteen alumni and two friends of California State University, Dominguez Hills returned to campus to take on the role of professor during the university’s inaugural Professor for a Day on Nov. 20 and 21.
“As leaders in their respective fields, our alumni brought a wealth of professional knowledge and career advice to the classroom. This program allowed students to engage in candid conversations with professionals about real life experiences in careers,” said Gayle Ball-Parker, director of Alumni and Family Programs, who organized the event.
During their lectures and presentations, the honorary professors shared details of their success since graduating, lessons learned, and how their education at CSU Dominguez Hills helped to shape them as professionals. Leading successful careers as executives, entrepreneurs, educators, editors, actors, or government officials, their fields represent the range of corresponding degrees offered at CSU Dominguez Hills. Accordingly, professors for the day were matched with 23 classes relevant to their professional fields.
Some of the returning alumni found themselves giving lectures in classes of their former professors, “which turned out to be a source of pride and confirmation for faculty that hard work pays off,” Ball-Parker remarked.
Alumna Jasmine Gray (Class of ’12, B.A., communications), CEO and founder of Image is Everything PR, said not only was it an honor to come back to her alma mater and share with a new generation of Toros, but it also was a chance to connect with her former instructors. Gray spoke to students in Advertising Strategy and Writing (COM342) classes, taught by her former instructor, lecturer of communications Chris Russo, as well as Media and Society (COM100), taught by lecturer of communications Paul Fornelli.
“To come back and [not just talk] to the students, but to let the professors know what they’ve done and how they’ve affected my life, it’s like giving back because I used the tools they gave me to have the successes that I do have in life so far,” Gray said.
Through question and answer sessions and interactive activities led by the honorary professors, students were able to learn about practices and strategies used in day-to-day work situations.
Samuel Mejia, a sophomore majoring in heath science, said he learned about writing loglines (brief script summaries), from film and TV actor and alumnus Jeff Coopwood (’08, M.A., humanities) during an exercise Coopwood led in Television, Film, and Theatre (THE100), a course taught by Sharrel Luckett, assistant professor of theatre arts.
“I had fun with my group trying to come up with [a logline] and we finally chose one of my own. It was an honor addressing it to Mr. Coopwood and I enjoyed the feedback he delivered,” Mejia wrote in a class assignment reporting on the visit.
For students in Small Business Management (MGT412), taught by lecturer of business management Cal Caswell, alumna Star Van Buren (Class of ’85, B.A., communications), who is the director of the California Small Business Development Center, outlined some of the steps toward starting a successful business, handed out books on the subject, and encouraged students to connect with her after the class session.
Van Buren also recalled how the university provided her with just what she needed during her academic career: small classes where she could have direct interaction with her professors.
As a visiting professor for the day, Kaleah Bradshaw, a supervisor in the university’s Office of Admissions and Records who graduated from CSUDH in 2009 with a bachelor’s in English literature, spoke to a group of largely freshmen and sophomores in Africana Literary Traditions (AFS231), taught by Edward Robinson, lecturer of Africana studies.
“To have the opportunity to engage, connect with students at such a young time in their academic career was awesome,” the Alumni Advisory Board member commented. “They had tons of questions. They asked about how I got to work at Dominguez, what was the secret to my success. I ran out of business cards. It was great.”
Other alumni assumed the role of professor in Introduction to Comparative Ethnic and Global Societies (AFS212), International Business (BUS445), Introduction to Chicano Literature (CHS205), Media and Society (COM100), Newswriting for Media (COM250), News Production Workshop (COM355), Integrated Communications Management (COM467), liberal studies teacher education (LBS495), Organizational Behavior (MGT312), Strategic Management (MGT490), Principles of Marketing (MKT350), Foundations of Public Administration (PUB300), and Educational Psychology (TED 402).
Ball-Parker remarked that the inaugural Professor for a Day was a success right out of the gate, saying, “It lit a spark for faculty, students, alums, and friends of the university alike.”
2013 Professor of the Day Roster
Robert Anderson (’96, B.A., sociology/minor in public administration; ’99, M.A., sociology), Teacher, Colin P. Kelly Elementary School, Compton
Jerry Arredondo (’04, B.S., business administration), Owner and Creative Director, AC Grafx
Kaleah Bradshaw (’09, B.A., English literature), Supervisor, CSUDH Office of Admissions and Records
Aja Brown, Mayor, City of Compton
Lisa Collins (’06, B.A., interdisciplinary studies), Human Resources Manager, NBCUniversal West Coast Operations and Technical Services
Jeff Coopwood (’08, M.A., humanities), Film and TV Actor
L. Remon Corley (’07, M.A., special education), Principal, Crenshaw High School
Sam Enriquez (’85, B.A., economics), Senior Editor, Page One, Wall Street Journal
Jasmine Gray (Class of ’12, B.A., communications) CEO and Founder, Image is Everything PR
Jerry Groomes, Retired Carson City Manager
Tonya Haynes (’04, B.S., business administration), CEO and Founder, Phoenix Business Development Group
Joseph Herrera (’99, B.A., labor studies), Vice President, Human Resources, AEG
Bree Nguyen (’12, B.S., business administration), Strategic Partnerships Manager for Public Figure Partnerships, Facebook
Keshia Sexton (’08, B.A., Africana studies), Field Representative/Case Worker, Congresswoman Karen Bass
Star Van Buren (’85, B.A., communications), Director, California Small Business Development Center
James Waller (’04, M.A., education: administration), Principal, Alliance Gertz-Ressler High School
Chiraz Zouaoui (’05, B.S., business administration), CEO and Founder, City National Security Services