2013-2014 Faculty of the Month
View the current Faculty of the Month.
- Rich Cominos - April 2014
- Narinder Bansal - March 2014
- Lenore Landavazo - February 2014
- Rick Arellano - December 2013/January 2014
- Ralph de Unamuno - November 2013
- Alison Kuehner - October 2013
- Jeff Roberts - September 2013
Learn more about the Faculty of the Month program.
April 2014 Faculty of the Month
Ok, start singing Willie Nelson’s classic country song “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys.” Why? Well, because our April Faculty of the Month was – and could have remained – a cowboy. And if he had, Ohlone College would have missed out on one of our great faculty members.
He is half Greek and half California Native American of Ohlone Costanoan Esselen Ancestry. Born in Salinas, California, he was raised in the Native American culture, spending summers on the family ranch deep in the mountains near the Carmel Valley. From his culture, he learned to respect the earth and how to live off the land. He learned to respect others and not judge them since he had not followed in their footsteps. He also learned that others do not always abide by the code of respect for life. His great uncle was killed just for being Native American, with the perpetrators never having to pay for their crime. While this could have given our awardee a very different outlook on life, his culture and family guided him to always want to help, not hurt, others. (You will see this characteristic throughout his careers – read on.)
He lived the cowboy life through high school -enjoying activities such as round ups, bar-b-cues, rodeos, horseback riding, and calf roping. He started calf riding at various junior rodeos with a dream to become a professional rodeo cowboy riding Brahma Bulls, saddle & bareback broncs. So how did he get from the junior rodeo circuit to Ohlone College?
Maybe his mother had heard and heeded the Willie Nelson song, but regardless, she saw what was happening and she did not let her baby grow up to be a cowboy! She made sure he was college-bound. He attended Hartnell Junior College, earning an A.A. degree in Police Science. He then transferred to San Jose State University where he earned a B.A. degree in Penology and a M.S. degree in Criminal Justice Administration with a minor in Education. Haunted by the memory of his third grade teacher calling him stupid in front of the class, he was determined to do well. He made the Dean’s list during his undergraduate work and achieved a 3.8 GPA upon completing his Master’s studies.
From the university he went on to spend 25 years as a police officer for the City of Palo Alto. During this time he worked all divisions of the department. His career was very rewarding - saving lives, preventing crime and arresting criminals. While serving as a Palo Alto officer, he received two honors: “President of the Northern California Crime Prevention Officer Association” and the Palo Alto Lions Club’s “Police Officer of the Year Award for Community Service.”
Unfortunately, a medical situation ended his career in law enforcement. But luckily for Ohlone College, he went into teaching. He has been here for 14 years and loves it. In his own words he exclaims “what a time I am having!” He finds his most challenging endeavor is to help guide his students in a certain direction. He works to assist them as they determine their short and long range goals, using academic discipline, academic honesty, and academic freedom.
Remember I said that his goal is to serve others. He did that on the police force and he does it here at Ohlone. Want proof? Here is what a former student says about him: “I have taken a lot of his classes. He is tireless when it comes to helping his students. He is always willing to take time to address questions and help students to do better in class. He also advises students on law enforcement careers and dispenses advice for personal problems. Rich Cominos is one of the best instructors I have ever had the pleasure to learn from. I personally consider him one of my mentors.” And he always remembers to treat his students with dignity and respect, believing that everyone can succeed and instilling that message in them.
Well, I think that says it all. Now you know why he is getting this recognition. He has spent his life serving and enriching the lives of the people around him, always going above and beyond the call of duty.
Please congratulate our April Faculty of the Month:
Administration of Justice
March 2014 Faculty of the Month
Our March awardee came a long, long way to be here at Ohlone College. You might be asking “How far did this person come?” Well, as the crow flies, he came 5,275 miles. That’s a long way, but you do not have to worry about our awardee getting lost, even on a long trip such as that. No, not because of any handy GPS tool, but because this month’s recipient is his own GPS tool. He is skilled in cartography- yes, he is a map maker. But he is good at many more things than making maps (although I think that map skill is pretty amazing in itself).
But first some little known, or perhaps known, tidbits about this month’s awardee:
- Began his journey to Ohlone College in Coventry City, England
- Another Ohlone graduate! (okay, three cheers for Ohlone College)
- Waved good-bye to Ohlone College to go to Cal State Hayward to obtain a BA in Environmental Studies, an MA in Geography, and Certificates in Geographical Information Systems and Cartography – I told you he was a whiz at map-making
- Not all work and no play though, because he used to be in a band! We need more research, however, to determine his musical instrument of choice and the type of music. Hmm…country western? Heavy metal? Inquiring minds want to know.
- Proud father of a 10-year-old daughter, and 5-year-old son
- Likes to work out, practice yoga and read in his very rare moments of spare time (see #5 above for explanation for dearth of spare time)
- Known for his unique sense of humor and may actually be Russell Peters (do a Google search here if need be)
- Someday when he gets spare time (again see #5) would like to write a book about his experience of growing up Indian in America
- Spent some years in business development, then as a cartographer, and finally a freeway flyer
- Waved hello again to Ohlone College to take on the challenge of creating the Environmental Sciences program
So moving on from the tidbits, let’s look at the many things that this month’s awardee is so good at here at Ohlone. He created, nurtured, and has grown an extremely successful Environmental Studies Program which includes five Certificates of Accomplishment and both an AA and an AS in that field. To accomplish all that, he designed innovative and exciting curricula for his students and completed all that CurricUNET data!
In addition, he was instrumental in establishing a wonderful community garden at Newark and has obtained grants to ensure its continuance.
He is an active member of the Sustainability Committee, with sustainability being a theme in all his work.
He is constantly reaching out in an effort to collaborate with his colleagues here at Ohlone, at other community colleges, and at the CSUs. As an example, he worked with Ohlone faculty to establish a Fitness and Wellness garden with hopes of obtaining a grant to study the positive effects of Community Gardening on health habits, BMI, body composition and related elements. He is also working on a project to turn Ohlone’s spin bikes into mini generators so that the human energy expended in a one-hour spin class can be used to run the fans to cool the riders.
As you can tell, he is truly a forward thinker and a wonderful asset to Ohlone College. It seems that he is always busy creating something new to help students learn more about the environment and how to take care of it. His impact will be felt for years to come as he educates our students in how to be good stewards of the environment. To see his commitment to his program, his students, and the future of our planet, check out this video (YouTube).
And be sure to congratulate our March Faculty of the Month:
Geography/GIS/Environmental Sciences Departments
February 2014 Faculty of the Month
Is this you?
You love your job (Okay so that could be many, if not most, of us here at Ohlone)
You love to laugh and to make others laugh, too (Well, one way or another this could also apply to many of us)
You like to write in your free time, hoping to complete a novel someday soon. (Even some of us not in the English department could still be a possibility)
You help your students achieve their college goals and keep them on track (Okay, so maybe you aren’t out of the running yet)
You are an Ohlone alum, earning your AA here! (You would be surprised at how many faculty this includes – Yeah Ohlone!)
You take classes here at Ohlone! (That’s pretty neat, isn’t it – talk about loving it here)
You are very involved in campus-wide governance, serving on College Council and the Standard IVA accreditation team (yikes, most of us just dropped off the list with this one)
You are an adjunct member of the Ohlone faculty, spending lots of unpaid time serving the college and its students (the field is extremely narrow now)
You volunteered for six years at Camp to Belong, where siblings separated in foster care were able to spend an entire week together having fun and enjoying time with each other. (We are now down to just one very special person)
That person is Lenore Landavazo!
Lenore is both a part-time Ohlone counselor and an Ohlone College student. She earned her Natural Science AA from Ohlone College before transferring to CSU Hayward for a degree in Psychology. She then went to Pepperdine University and earned an MA in Clinical Psych, MFCC emphasis. Next was CSU Dominguez Hills for a PPS credential for School Counseling. She is the program coordinator for our Academic Standing Program and the designated counselor for and coordinator of College Connection.
And she currently takes Tap and Jazz classes here at Ohlone!
In addition to tapping those toes she enjoys golfing, snowboarding, hiking, reading, shopping, cruises, snorkeling, and more dancing. After all that, sometimes she just needs to chill out in front of the television. That’s where she kicks back and enjoys her two adorable dogs, Gideon and Esther. (Cuddly and fun Cavalier King Charles Spaniels)
Before joining us here at Ohlone College, Lenore worked at a foster family agency as a social worker, trainer, recruiter, and finally Supervising Social Worker. She volunteers at her church, greeting people and working the information booth. She says that while she often doesn’t know the answers to the questions, she loves it because it is just so much fun meeting people.
Did you notice how often it came up that Lenore enjoys people and being of service to them? Whether it is helping her colleagues to make Ohlone College a better institution, or ensuring that a child in foster care has some much-needed joy and happiness, or assisting a college student forge a path to a successful future – Lenore is there. And we are so glad she is here --- sharing her great ideas, her love of life, and her dedication to making life just a bit better for everyone around her.
Please congratulate our February Faculty of the Month:
December 2013/January 2014 Faculty of the Month
Our December/January recipient is a mega multi-tasker who is friendly and willing to help everyone, and I mean everyone. Just look at his community/college service and leadership:
- Coordinator STEM College for a Day at Ohlone College (2011 - present)
- Co-Advisor, Ohlone College Chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Hispanic/Chicano and Native American Scientists (2011 - present)
- Board Director, Ohlone College Foundation (March 2011 - September 2012)
- Board member, City of Newark Senior Citizen Advisory Committee (January 2011 - present)
- Board Director, Life Eldercare, (February 2013 - present)
- President, AARP Newark Chapter (January 2012 - present)
- Secretary, Toastmasters Newark Chapter (July 2011 - present)
- Member Newark Rotary Club (2010 - present)
- Board member Avanzando (2009-2012)
- Initiator of the Ohlone College-City of Newark Senior Center partnership
- Member of the Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce (May, 2013 - present)
This list includes just his most recent activities, but this level of involvement is nothing new. This is just how he lives his life.
He is dedicated to advancing the underserved and underrepresented, but as the above list demonstrates, he is particularly passionate about advancing the success of the Latino community in education, science and technology, as well as educating older adults. His dedication is both tireless and inspiring. But then he knows something about going against the odds and the determination it takes to succeed. Read on.
He graduated from high school in Lima, Peru at age 16. With just a little bit of savings from odd jobs, he flew from Lima to Miami, Florida, where he boarded a Greyhound bus for the exciting (and long) seven-day trip to San Francisco. Once in California, he supported himself by working in the fields and in restaurants (dishwasher, waiter AND cook!).
He enrolled in English as a Second Language classes in the adult schools in San Francisco and just six months later he entered City College of San Francisco where he majored in math. Two and half years later he graduated with honors. He then earned a B.A. in mathematics from San Francisco State and a Master’s of Science degree in Computer Systems. That takes determination and hard work!
I know it is really neat to get a special parking place and a mug as the Ohlone College Faculty of the Month recipient, but take a look at a few of his other awards and who presented them to him:
- Latino Heritage Leadership Award (2013): Assembly member Bob Wieckowski, 25th Assembly District
- Latino Heritage Leadership Award (2013): Member of Congress Michael M. Honda
- Latino Heritage Leadership Award (2013): California State Senator, District 10, Ellen Corbett
- Latino Heritage Leadership Award (2013): San Jose City councilmember, District 4, Kansen Hu
- Special Congregational Recognition (June 2010): U.S. House of Representatives
- Certificate of Recognition (June 2010): California State Legislature
- Ohlone College Outstanding Educator of the Year (June 2010): Avanzando Award
Now that is an impressive list of honors—and I just included the highlights of all his awards!
And now for some fun tidbits:
Twenty five years ago he responded to a newspaper ad placed by a lovely lady; they married three months later. Love was in the air and still is! Now he and his wife have four children and two grandchildren.
He likes cats a lot and is especially fond of his two black cats Mona and Lisa. (I bet they are just as cute as their names!)
When you see him, ask him about the time he was a model for Men’s Wearhouse.
His hobbies include hiking (Machu Pichu), walking (almost every East Bay Regional Park at least once), and traveling the world (China, Peru, Morocco, Europe to name just a few of his destinations).
But he has another hobby that sounds really neat: video graphing. At this writing 43,644 people have seen his videos posted on YouTube!
Personally I don’t know where he finds the time for any hobbies, given his dedication to his students, to Ohlone College, to the senior citizen community, and to the Latino Community.
Our December/January Faculty of the Month is truly exceptional. Please congratulate:
Computer Applications and Occupational Technology (CAOT) Department
November 2013 Faculty of the Month
The Top 10 Reasons this person should be November Faculty of the Month are:
- He is a Fremont native. (3 cheers for Fremont)
- He is an Ohlone College graduate. (More cheers!)
- He was the first person from his family to graduate from college. (UCLA)
- He is a one-person department here at Ohlone College.
- He has served on the College Council.
- He has been the student club advisor for MEChA.
- He has spent countless hours organizing the Dia de los Muertos event at Ohlone College.
- He is a tireless advocate for the Chicano/a and Native American people, championing their rights, working to provide equal opportunities, and striving to educate us all on these critical issues.
- He has managed reasons 7, 6, 5, 4 and 3 above as an adjunct instructor, dividing his time between Ohlone College and West Valley College (lots of cheers here for adjunct faculty members!)
And now, the Number 1 reason he deserves to be November Faculty of the Month is—
Drum roll please…
- He brews beer in his house! He likes to experiment with new brews that include fruits and spices. And best of all, he says we can all come over to his house and do taste testing (okay, so maybe I made up this last sentence, but the rest is true. And, of course, it is not the #1 reason, but it is still a pretty cool hobby, don’t you think?).
Well, I could not stop at just 10 reasons, either.
- He has two darling Chihuahuas, Chico and Baby, and we all know dog lovers are good people.
- He is vibrant and fun and willing to engage in our fascinating world and participate in its experiences, as exemplified by the picture below. Here he is in Cartagena, Colombia, cozying up with his new best friend, a baby sloth.
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it) that our November Faculty of the Month is a dedicated, caring instructor, outstanding in his field, who contributes much more to the Ohlone Community than these few paragraphs can cover.
Please congratulate our November Faculty of the Month!
Ralph de Unamuno
Chicano/a Studies, Native American Studies, US History and California History
October 2013 Faculty of the Month
Have you ever noticed how some people just seem to totally have their act together? You know what I mean. They are really competent, efficient, responsible, dedicated, kind, serene, happy, and a hundred other wonderful adjectives (that’s a hint – adjectives). You never see them careening around in a state of chaos, rushing from place to place, looking all stressed out and frazzled.
Well, if you are like me, you wonder how they do that. What is their secret? Can they really be that “with it” all the time? Well, in the case of our October Faculty of the Month – the answer is yes, she has her act completely together, and it is not an act. As some would say, “It is just how she rolls.”
And while I haven’t yet learned the secret to her cool Zen state, I have learned some other things about her:
- Married to a physicist who works at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab
- Proud mom of two bright, funny, talented kids: a daughter in high school and son in middle school
- Soccer mom extraordinaire: coached her kids¹ teams when they were young and was her daughter¹s team manager for many years
- Has a twin sister who is a surgeon (do you suppose they ever trade places at work or pretend to be each other at parties, just for fun?)
- Works to be a good citizen of the earth by taking only public transportation to Ohlone (she will need that parking space, though, if BART goes on strike!) and by creating a native plant yard (no grass, low to no water) that's hummingbird, bug & squirrel friendly (Hmmm….gardening- maybe that’s the secret)
- Plays soccer every Sunday morning on a team whose members range in age from 20’s to 60’s (If playing soccer is the secret, I’m doomed)
- Has taken and enjoyed (!!!) many 100+ mile bicycle rides with her hubby (Please don’t let this be the secret to having one’s act together. Seriously, 100 miles per ride?!)
- Loves, loves, loves teaching, and if she isn’t teaching, she is thinking about teaching, or her students, or she is working on something related to teaching such as the following:
- Obtaining a grant with her colleagues to develop a new integrated reading and writing class to be offered spring 2014 in conjunction with the California Acceleration Project
- Coordinating the last two Nor Cal College Reading Association conferences with colleagues at De Anza College (oh, she has also been the President of that association for the past two years)
- Developing a customizable integrated reading-writing textbook for developmental college students for McGraw Hill publishing company
- Presenting insights she has gained from her students who transitioned from developmental reading into transfer-level composition at the “Teaching English in the Two-Year College Conference” this October
- And when she is not soccering (new verb - another hint, verb) or gardening, or raising kids, or teaching magnificently at Ohlone College, and being a wonderful colleague to work with, she co-chairs College Council! It is that group that meets all the time, works really hard, addresses many different and difficult issues – the committee that she writes those great updates for that keep us informed.
For those of us that know our October recipient, we know that this list of achievements and qualities is incomplete. But part of her having her act so together is also true humility and a genuine unawareness of all that she contributes to her family, friends, colleagues, students, the college, and her part of the world. So when she was asked for information and given the opportunity to highlight her accomplishments, the response was surprise and bemusement. She actually said that the honor was enough – not sending out an announcement would be just fine with her. The most amazing people are the ones that do not see themselves that way.
Please congratulate our October Faculty of the Month:
Gender and Women's Studies Department
September 2013 Faculty of the Month
Guessing Game Called “Who is this person?”
- An expert in the following:
Phooump phooump phooump 10 times, then whoosh whoosh,
Phooump phooump phooump 10 times, then whoosh whoosh,
Phooump phooump phooump 10 times, then whoosh whoosh
Repeat as necessary
(Sound it out, you’ll figure it out!) No? Okay, more hints:
A member of the Rose Bowl teams in 1997 (Arizona State) & 2000 (Stanford), Final Four men's basketball in 1998 (Stanford) & National Champions in men's tennis in 2000 (Stanford).
Currently the Athletic Trainer Spotter for the NFL as part of concussion management program and injury video review system at all Oakland Raider home games. (Go Raiders!)
Native of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and graduate of the University of Iowa. Once a Hawkeye – always a Hawkeye!
Admired by colleagues and students for dedication, enthusiasm, positive attitude, willingness to go the extra mile (or ten!), concern for others, a good heart, a warm smile, a humble spirit in spite of all his amazing accomplishments and abilities
Spends any spare time in activities such as officiating high school football games in Santa Clara County, serving on the Managing Board for California Athletic Trainers' Association as Region 2 Bay Area Director, and serving as Athletic Training Representative for the Coast Conference to the California Community College Athletic Trainers' Associations (this is an incomplete list, but you get the idea, right? Spare time? Really?)
Considers himself to be the luckiest man in the world because he has been married for 15 years to Katie, a Firefighter/Paramedic/Hazardous Materials/Special Operations/Urban Search & Rescue professional for the Santa Clara County Fire Department, a lady who, in his words—rocks!!
The proud father of two sons – Tyler, 11, and Ryan, 9. Both excel in tae kwon do, play on travel baseball teams from Morgan Hill and get way good grades in school – sounds as if they take after both of their exceptional parents! Oh, and again, in that spare time, he coaches for Ryan's team
Is beginning his 6th year here as Head Athletic Trainer/Associate Professor in Kinesiology after stints as Assistant Athletic Trainer at Miami (Ohio) University and Arizona State University, Associate Head Athletic Trainer at Stanford University and Clinical Coordinator of Athletic Training at San Jose State University. Is Ohlone College lucky or what to get this guy – wow!
And, as an example of his caring, sharing spirit, is donating his Faculty of the Month Parking Space to K.G. Greenstein because the space was always taken up by someone else when she was the monthly recipient.
Who is he? Yes! Our own Jeff Roberts, CPR master, amazing athlete, incredible professional in his field (or court!), and all-around great faculty member.
Head Athletic Trainer