The power of community means professors with open doors and open minds.
Veronica Estrada, Ed.D., faculty in Pacific Oaks’ School of Human Development, doesn’t just say she cares about her students, she shows it. From proudly showcasing pages from student theses papers on her office door to proactively engaging students inside the classroom. She takes the time to understand each individuals’ background, academic goals, and insecurities.
“What I’ve noticed is that a lot of students have academic trauma,” she says. “They may feel that they are not smart enough or not bright enough. Maybe something happened to them in elementary school, junior high, high school, or community college that has really affected them academically. So, when they’re in my classroom, I share that I also went through a lot of academic difficulties to get where I am, but I didn’t give up.”
A few years ago she decided to help students visualize their future success in a truly unique way. She brought to class the doctoral robe she had worn at her own graduation and asked her students, specifically some that seemed to be struggling, to put it on and describe how they felt.
“It really impacted them. Many described how incredible it felt and how it motivated them,” she says. “These were students that had such low self-esteem or a lot of self-doubt. But just putting on this robe helped change their thinking about themselves and what they are capable of accomplishing.”
Today, putting on Dr. Estrada’s doctoral robe has become somewhat of a tradition for Pacific Oaks’ students, as word-of-mouth keeps the tradition alive from one semester to the next.
“Often times, all a student needs to succeed is that one connection, maybe to a faculty member, or someone else that believes in them. It can really help change their way of thinking,” Dr. Estrada says. “I’ve learned from students that at the end of the day we’re wired for human connection, and if we can connect with each other the power of learning is so much stronger.”
Pacific Oaks College