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Bernadette Anayah
Professor / English as a Second Language

"Get to know people on campus. Network with your classmates so that you can make friends and establish a support system."

Bernadette Anayah

Please talk about your experiences working with first generation college students.

The ESL students who come into my classroom at the Rancho Cordova Center, the Folsom Lake College main campus, or the El Dorado Center are here because of their overwhelming determination to improve their lives. They have overcome the challenges of leaving their own country and making a new life in the United States- with a new language and culture. Their ages range from eighteen to eighty, and it is not uncommon to see two or three generations from the same family taking classes. They know the value of education and appreciate the opportunity they have to attend the community college.

I can identify with their experience and empathize with them in many ways. Having lived, worked, and traveled in many different countries, I know what it's like to adjust to a new culture and learn a new language. I understand their vulnerability, their fears, and their humility. And, I recognize and admire their passion to achieve their dreams and succeed.

I believe in setting high standards and expectations in my classroom. I stress the value of education and tell my students: "You can lose everything else, but you will never lose your education." And, most important of all, I think kindness, support, and encouragement are essential.

What advice would you give to a new college student?

Get to know people on campus. Network with your classmates so that you can make friends and establish a support system. Join a club and get involved in college activities. Find people on campus that you can talk to when you need help or advice- one of your professors, a counselor, or a staff member. Find a place on campus where you feel comfortable and like to hang out- a spot in the library, the cafeteria, or a gathering place. This will give you a sense of belonging; you will not feel so alone; and you will have a much more satisfying and successful experience.

What's the favorite part of your job?

I enjoy meeting students from so many different backgrounds, and I love to hear their stories. There is always something new to learn. It is also wonderful when you have students from twenty or more different countries and language backgrounds in your classroom working together, overcoming their fears and prejudices, forming bonds, and ultimately learning that their commonalities are so much greater than their differences.

What was your proudest moment working with students?

I think one of the proudest moments was seeing five of my former ESL students walk across the stage at graduation. They had started in the beginning level ESL classes at the Rancho Cordova Center, transitioned to the main FLC campus, and completed their requirements for graduation. I was very proud of them.

She also received an EOP&S Instructor Appreciation Award in 2009.

Bernadette Anayah has her B.A. from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland and her M.A. from San Francisco State University.

Bernadette Anayah
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