Spotlight on Ohlone:
Katona to retire after 34 years of serving Ohlone

By Sean Nero, Staff writer.

Thursday, March 5, 2009—Reprinted from Monitor.

Cynthia Katona. Cynthia Katona has taught at Ohlone since 1975. —Photo by Nazia Mastan.

At the end of the spring 2009 semester, Ohlone will no longer have one of its longest tenured and most influential faculty members. Author, photographer and English professor Cynthia Katona is set to retire from Ohlone at the end of this semester after 34 years of service.

Katona was one of the original faculty members hired by Ohlone, coming to the college in 1975 as part of the second group of faculty hired by the college. Because she was hired while the Fremont campus was still under construction, she started out teaching in buildings in the surrounding area.

Katona taught primarily journalism and English when she first began, because she had a master’s degree in literature. She later expanded to teach in the fields of photography, women’s studies, desktop publishing and international education. Along with Barbara Hendrickson, Katona helped start the women’s studies program at Ohlone. She has taught Women in the Western World (WS/IS 120) for 30 years. Katona also had a hand in bringing some of the first computers to campus with the help of then-journalism Professor Florence Reynolds and a $40,000 grant from the state.

Katona has had many memorable times on the campus. She said, “in 34 years I have never not wanted to come to school.” This dedication to her profession has been evident to her students. One is former student Robin Williams, who took a literature course with Katona and went on to become a successful author.

Katona is an author as well, having published two books (Book Savvy and Modern Ivory Netsuke) with more in the making. Katona said she is especially proud of having worked in international education, as she was able to “see the growth of [her] students as they matured.”

Katona also cites her photography as something she is very proud of. She has won numerous awards and recognition for her work, including being a finalist in the 2008 Photographer’s Forum contest.

Katona said her hardest moments as a professor occurred when she “couldn’t succeed in helping troubled students.” While she enjoys teaching, Katona said she “accomplished all she had hoped to accomplish while teachingand is looking forward to new challenges. She also said she “made a promise to retire before she got burned out,” seeing that she wanted to be able to teach with the same delight as she did when she first began.

Katona’s influence reaches beyond students as she served as president of the Faculty Senate for six years and was involved in hiring English Professors Jeff Dean, Mark Brosamer, Jennifer Hurley and Tracy Virgil.

Katona said her funniest time at Ohlone was when Dr. Alan Kirshner and some of his students put together a body-building show and her women’s studies students began gathering around to cheer them on.

During her retirement, Katona said she wants to focus on her writing as well as do some seasonal traveling that she wasn’t able to do while teaching.

Since she is a Fremont resident, Katona said she will continue to enjoy the college during her retirement and hopes to take one of Denise Owen’s drawing courses.

Katona wanted to leave students with this message: “think about a career in teaching; don’t let anyone dissuade you from doing it... You’ll have plenty of fun and free time and while you might not get rich, you’ll make enough to live happily on.”

By sean nero

Staff writer

“Trying to prevent students from losing their love of reading,” Lauri Scholz and Amy Morse started the Ohlone Book Club.

The club was started in October of last year by president Scholz and vice president Morse because they noticed that “there wasn’t a book club on campus.”

This week the club chose Firoozeh Dumas’ national bestselling memoir Funny in Farsi which, according to Morse is “a story of an Iranian girl’s experiences in America in the late 70’s.”

Scholz said the purpose of the book club is to “allow students to have a place to discuss books so that the only books they read aren’t text books.”

The club, which currently has around seven members, is open to anyone with an interest in reading and holds its meetings every other Tuesday from 1to 2 p.m. in the video conferencing room in the library.

Accordinging to Scholz club members “bring book suggestions to each meeting and then vote on the book that the club will read” Members can either rent, buy or check out selected books from the library or retail book store.

New book club member Greg Monson said he joined the club because he “likes to read and had friends in the club.”

The next club meeting will be on March 17 in the library video conference room and the book chosen is Emma by Jane Austen.

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