For many, the new school year is here once again. Ahhh yes, the smell of higher education is in the air…and crowded parking lots…and petitioning of classes…and book fees…While some may have become accustomed to these trends already, there is a notably newer presence on campus this year who might not see these things as a normality. This, for the most part, includes a mixture of freshmen, like myself, and transfer students.
But, perhaps the most exciting addition to the Saddleback Community College campus is that of the new faculty as they make their way in with some rather impressive resumes.
English Composition Instructor Dr. Shellie Banga, one of the Liberal Arts Division‘s newest members, has worked for a variety of different institutions including Whittier College, Cerritos College and most notably, Harvard University’s Institute for English Language, where with her colleagues, she helped design a new course curriculum. Also at Harvard she educated international students, who used English as a second language, at the GSD (Graduate School of Design) and taught an extensive English course to those students to bolster their English-speaking skills.
When asked why she chose to come to Saddleback College as opposed to putting in more time at Harvard, Dr. Banga stated, “I’m from Southern California, I want to be in this community, and I love community college students because they’re so diverse. I think the community college classroom is one of the most dynamic environments possible for educators. “
Also adding on to an already respected staff line-up is the Division of Fine Arts and Media Technology, with the hiring of Music Instructor, Dr. Ariel Alexander. Originally from St. Louis, Dr. Alexander made her way to Southern California as a teaching assistant at USC to earn her D.M.A. in Jazz Studies. She has written publications in a number of magazines including Music Editors Journal, the Woman Conductor and Jazz Education Magazine.
In addition to her writings, Dr. Alexander has recorded music for a number of television shows and indie films, with her work most notably featured in the Drama Howl (2010), which starred James Franco, Todd Rotondi, and Jon Prescott.
Still, her favorite experience, self-described as, “…phenomenal,” and that, “it was probably my favorite 4 minutes of my life so far,” was her band’s opportunity to play with legendary musician Stevie Wonder. Wonder was not alone however, as he, “came in with some other artists at the same time,” as they collectively went on to play a tribute to Ella Fitzgerald, who many regard as the “Queen of Jazz.”
These ladies are just two of the twenty-seven new staff members now calling Saddleback College home. Take some time to get to know your teachers; you never know what you may learn or who you’ll really meet.