I had the great pleasure of having a few words with a very well rounded and respected teacher, Mrs. Lisa Jensen.
What courses do you teach?
I teach psychology 1A, Human Sexuality and I also teach 1B, but not as often.
I was referred to you by more than just one student. What do you do to make your classes so exciting?
Well, I remember classes from college. It was really boring, and the instructors just droned on and on, so I try to not let it get like that. I try to use humor. I talk a lot about my silly escapades. Everybody knows my son, everybody knows the famous Mason, so I use him for examples, especially in 1A where we talk about developmental issues and stuff. They don’t get to know all the information about my personal life, but I kind of let them in a little bit so they can see real life application. I do act silly in classes. Actually, in one of my classes to show them how the electrical activity crosses along the axon in the neuronal studies, I have them do the wave and so they all stand up, then they sit down and then I run across the class and scream “Come on, come on, come on!” In my Human Sexuality class we have a lot of in-depth discussions. We talk about stuff that they have never talked about in a classroom before. Its stuff that I think is important, stuff that I don’t think they know, that definitely influences them having a happier, more productive life.
How long have you been working here, at Yuba College?
I think it’s been fourteen and a half years.
Where did you go to school to learn psychology?
I actually went here, to Yuba College. I graduated from Yuba College in ’85. Then I went to Sac State and got my bachelor’s degree in psychology, and then I went back and got my master’s degree at Sac State. I actually had some of the same instructors you guys have, like Lauren Syda. I’m going to make her feel really old… a lot of them that have left in the last few years, but definitely some of the same people that were here when I was here thirty years ago.
Can you tell me a bit about the union?
I’m actually president of the union, the YCFA, which stands for the Yuba College Faculty Association. I am the voice of the faculty. Part of my job is to make sure the faculty gets treated fairly. Another part of my job is to make sure that what the faculty and the district have agreed on, is upheld and that it is followed. I’m right in the middle of that trying to figure out how the faculty’s going to be compensated and what rights they have and those kinds of things.
Are you guys in the middle of any negotiations right now?
Yes, we are right in the middle of negotiations. We are actually in mediation. We have not been able to negotiate a contract with the District. Right now we are working under no contract, so the contract we are using to kind of a use as a basis is our expired contract. And now we’re in mediation; we have a representative from the state that has come in to try to get the two sides to come together, and that’s been going on for two or three months now. It’s not the best time for faculty-administrative relations, so that’s what I would like to change. I wouldn’t change the students. Students are great. The faculty are really great. I like coming to work. I really did want to work at Yuba College. I applied at a lot of other schools and when this job came up I definitely took it.
What caught your eye about this school? Was it the fact that you came here?
I went to school here, my family’s here, I knew this area, I grew up in this area.
I grew up looking at people who went to college. I thought going to college was the way out of poverty.
Why did you pick psychology as the class you were going to teach?
I was going to be a lawyer. I was sure I was going to do that and when I went to college. I said, no, I’m not taking any psychology classes because I know I’ll really like it and if I do it, I’m going to end up getting a job that makes no money. So I went and took one psychology class here and I loved it. Then when I went to Sac State I was going to be a lawyer, and I took all the pre-law classes. It was boring. So I started taking some psychology classes and then I thought, Sorry, I can’t do this law thing anymore. So I switched my major, when I was a junior, to psychology. And then after that I knew, when I was in grad school, I knew I was going to teach psychology. And then I got to teach a class at Sac State and it was 135 students and I taught it with two other people and it was under the advisement of a professor and I just loved it. I was kind of shy before and I thought, you know this is something I could really do and I really liked it.
Do you remember the first job you had as a teenager?
The first job I had was babysitting at a major department store at Christmas time. It only lasted a day because I quit. Basically the parents would shop and they would put their kids in this little holding area and we had to dress up like elves. I dressed up like an angel and watched these kids while their parents shopped.
Why did you quit?
Because it was horrible. I mean they were really bad kids. Just kidding. No kid is bad, just out of control.
Then I used to paint windows for the holidays. You know when you see the happy holidays on the windows. I used to do all that and paint the Santas and all that stuff.
I also taught high school for a while.
Do you have any advice for students that want to pursue your type of career?
Well, teaching at the college level is a great job because you get to meet young people. You get to talk about the things you like. You get to share it with people. It’s a really good experience. For people that want to be psychologist, you’re gonna have to get a Ph.D. pretty much now. I think people are finding out more and more what a good job it is to do this kind of thing, to teach any class in the community college level but to especially teach psychology. So you’re really going to have to get a Ph.D. at this level. Definitely, you would have to do some specific focusing towards the area of interest that you have in psychology, but take everything from the biological to the more counseling type classes so you have all the information.