Name: Janet Gonzalez-Mena
Class Year/Degree: M.A. '76 in Human Development
Current Job: Today I'm a retired community college teacher who is still writing textbooks, educating early childhood eduction (ECE) folks about diversity, and training infant-toddler caregivers, so in some ways I never left teaching.
Impact of Pacific Oaks: I guess most of us ECE folks are in it to make the world a better place. I think my biggest lesson at PO from every side was about equity and social justice. As a white woman I see clearly my role in changing the profession and the society (not to mention the world) so that oppression is clear and obvious and more of us are dedicated to erasing it—in ourselves and in our institutions. We can do that no matter how much education we have, but it helps to have a degree, especially if you are in ECE. PO is the place to get the degree!
Influential Class or Faculty Member: Well, I'm joining what I'm sure is a chorus of PO alums who hold up Betty Jones as a faculty member who had a huge impact on me. We hit it off from day one. I still have the first long letter she wrote in response to my query about PO in which I stated my goals, what I wanted to learn, why, and how. (The other colleges just sent brochures.) Her letter started off, "You're just the kind of student we are looking for…." She wrote it on her typewriter that punched holes in the paper. Just imagine-this was in the days before computers.