At the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, Farida Gabdrakhmanova was recognized as Associate Professor of the Year at Saddleback College joining Professor of the Year Dr. Scott Fier and Emeritus Professor of the Year Melinda Smith as Saddleback College’s three Professors of the Year
Gabdrakhmanova grew up in Russia, where, according to her Saddleback Faculty Profile, she earned her Media Designer Diploma at the International Academy of Business and her Master of Science in Physics at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. When she moved with her family to the United States, she said it was very difficult for her because she couldn’t speak English. Gabdrakhmanova ended up signing up for English as a Second Language (ESL) classes at Irvine Valley College in order to improve her understanding of the language. Shortly after this, Gabdrakhmanova said that she signed up for interior design classes at Saddleback.
“I discovered that at Saddleback there was an interior design program, and so I took a couple classes to see how I am doing and how this is,” Gabdrakhmanova said. “I came and I liked it and I finished the entire three year program here.”
After finishing the interior design course in 2008, Gabdrakhmanova said that one of the professors in the program told her that she should join the program as a professor. Although initially unsure, Gabdrakhmanova said after thinking about it for a couple of years, she eventually decided to give it a try.
Since starting in 2011, Gabdrakhmanova said that she has taught six classes at Saddleback, including Digital Visualization for Interior Design, a class that she says she helped develop from scratch. This semester, she is teaching Fundamentals of Lighting (ID 127) and Interior Design Internship (ID 129).
Gabdrakhmanova said that she found out she was named Associate Professor of the Year late one Wednesday night after returning home from teaching. She came home late, and didn’t get to check her email until around midnight. That was when she says that she saw the message congratulating her.
“I didn’t fully understand what was going on. It was a surprise and a shock all together,” Gabdrakhmanova said. “But it was a pleasant surprise.”
For Gabdrakhmanova, the most rewarding part of her job is watching her students grow and improve throughout the semester.
“I am really inspired by the student’s works,” she said. “I’m inspiring them and they are inspiring me.”