#CYProfessional: Deann Burch, Career Center Coordinator

At Cypress College, we are proud of our employees and realize that recognizing personal and professional achievements, along with establishing a human connection between students, faculty, and staff, promotes a collegial atmosphere imbued with the Charger Spirit! Our employees always strive for excellence and make significant contributions to the campus and surrounding communities every day. We are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProfessionals like Career Planning Center Coordinator Deann.

What was your path to Cypress?

In many ways, Cypress has always been part of my path. I was born in the early ‘60s and lived in Anaheim, while many of my relatives lived in Paramount, Artesia, and Lakewood. Every Sunday we traveled to various family homes, and drove past the multitude of dairy farms, cows, pastures, and layers of fog that hugged the streets. One day, my mom pointed at the sign that said, “Future Home of…” and she was so happy to know there would be a junior college nearby. Dad looked at me and my siblings and said, “Hey, you might want to go here when you finish high school.”

Then in the early ‘70s my dad’s karate dojo rented the gym to host tournaments. I was the scorekeeper and back-up timer so, technically, I worked at Cypress College when I was 10 years old. In the late ‘70s my mom, in an effort to help a recently widowed friend get involved with the community, took a job as an adult hourly during registration. Mom’s friend eventually found work elsewhere, but mom loved the college environment. She worked as an hourly in Admissions and Records until a permanent position became available in the Athletics Division. Mom worked with the athletes and coaches until she retired from Cypress College in the late ‘90s. She maintained close friendships with many of her Charger friends until she passed in 2011.

I began my educational journey at Cypress College in the fall of 1979, and then met my future husband in a class during the spring of 1980. That June, a position became available in the Admissions and Records Office, and my mom suggested I apply for the job and get some interview practice. Lo and behold, two hours after the interview, I received the call that I was hired. Yes, this was a life-altering moment for me and set me on the path of a truly fulfilling career. It also established lifelong friendships that I cannot imagine my life without.

I met my husband at Cypress College in the Psych 120 course in February 1980. We were married exactly two years later in February 1982. We are happily married to this day. Perry retired in August, and I will be retiring in November [2019] so the two of us are starting a new journey together.

What inspires you as an education facilitator?

I always wanted to be a teacher. I played “school” as a kid and assigned homework to my sister and friends. When I was in sixth grade, my teacher had each student stand up in class and share what we want to be when we grew up. I stood with pride and said, “I want to be a teacher.” The look on his face was unforgettable, and in retrospect, unforgiveable. He said with a disapproving sneer, “Oh, there won’t be any teaching jobs available when you graduate college.” My career dreams stopped at the very moment. I continued to excel in school, but I didn’t have a dream or a hope for what I wanted to “be.” I didn’t have a direction in mind, so when the position became available in the Admissions and Records Office, I saw it as a job, not a career. And then, something shifted. I liked the work I was doing. I enjoyed knowing the work I did, and assistance I provided, was helping other students along their path. I enjoyed the sensation of happiness, and fulfillment when students thanked me for being kind to them, for answering their questions, and for encouraging them to keep going.

After five years in A&R, I was then hired to work in the Career Planning Center. Chalk this up as the absolute best career-move I could have made. I cannot begin to adequately share the joy I had when connecting with and contributing to the field of career development. I learned about myself and how my interests, strengths, values, personality, and skills aligned with this career. Many of the tasks I enjoyed when I “played school” were now part of my daily adult life. I love research, making connections, pulling together data, and most of all, seeing students attain their goals, experience success, and learn about themselves without ever feeling the disapproving sneer that had discouraged me at a young age. What inspires me? Happy, content, fulfilled, supported students inspired me each and every day.

How do you balance your work at Cypress with your other professional/creative work?

Although I could be considered a workaholic, I actually have a very full and rewarding life that has worked in conjunction with my career. My family and friends keep me balanced. My studies of meditation practices have helped me to keep my mind, body, and spirit in harmony. My eclectic interests and desire to learn about these in depth have kept me involved with exploring, expanding, and evolving my thoughts and beliefs. I do volunteer work that keeps me informed and reminds me of the strong, loving foundation of my family that I never take for granted. I am happy and am able to infuse this happiness into all my pursuits.

Is there anything else you’re working on at the moment?

After 39+ years at Cypress College, I have decided to retire. I adore my work, the people I work with, and still get excited by the upcoming innovations. I originally thought I would be at my desk another 10 years, but then a little switch in my brain suddenly turned on and told me, “It is time.” I have no regrets, but am a little disappointed that I won’t be in the thick of the Title V Grant, rebranding our Center to the Majors and Careers Program, or seeing Guided Pathways fully embedded into the experience of our students. But I do know that I have contributed to these things. I served on committees, I gave a voice to and for classified employees, I demonstrated leadership, and I made a difference. I am now looking forward to exploring my meditation and spiritual studies, and perhaps will teach others as I had dreamed of when I was a child.

Is there any other information you’d like to share?

I am proud of my achievements, awards, and accomplishments. I am grateful for the friends I met on my first day in A&R and am still embracing these friends in my life today. I value the difference career professionals have made to bettering the field of career development. But most of all, I am inspired and in awe of the strength, fortitude, and motivation our students display on a daily basis. As Dr. Don Bedard told me on my first day of work, “Never forget. We are here for the students.” I have honored that throughout my career.

Former HRC Instructor Meets Challenges on ‘Chopped’

Blackmarket Bakery owner Rachel Klemek can work under pressure. She runs three bakeries, has four kids, and counts herself as a former Hotel, Restaurant & Culinary Arts faculty member of Cypress College. And now, she can call herself a “Chopped” episode champion and season finale runner-up.

We asked her a few questions about her experience. She offered an inside glimpse of the popular cooking competition show, as well as some sound advice that works in and out of the kitchen.

How did you get involved in being on the show “Chopped?”
Back in October of 2018, I received an email from a casting company requesting that I apply to “Chopped.” At that time, I hadn’t seen more than a few snippets from “Chopped” over the years but thought I should just give it a try anyway. My family strongly discouraged me, given how challenging it looked. Being an optimist, I filled out their app online and submitted a few videos of myself baking. A Skype interview and a more in-depth phone interview followed. Even then, I didn’t think I would get cast. Then, a producer called to schedule my “bio-pack,” where a crew filmed in the bakery location. But the producer warned that nothing was decided. Then, three weeks before the first episode filmed, they emailed to say that I was cast in a dessert episode and needed to get to NYC! I memorized and tested as many “fast” recipes as possible, not knowing what kinds of desserts I would be making.

At the start of the “Sweets Showdown: Cake” episode, you said your philosophy on the show was to “Keep Calm and Cake On.” Is this your motto for everyday life, too?

I think I came up with that on the spot, at the producer’s prompt to have a tagline. But in essence, I aspire to follow that advice. Freaking out about stuff is not productive, but sometimes it still happens!

You called one of the judges on the show, Sylvia Weinstock, a legend. Did that make you more nervous?
The whole process of filming was completely nerve-wracking, but I don’t know if any particular judge made it any more so. Sylvia Weinstock was a trailblazer in exquisite sugar flowers and incredible tiered cakes, so I was familiar with her stature in the industry but decided that being overly intimidated would be a handicap so tried to act as normal and confident as possible.

Squid-ink toffee — what inspired you? It was very popular!

Toffee is basically sugar, butter, water and a bit of salt. Since the salt is necessary to balance the sweetness, the saltiness of the squid ink seemed like it would work well. My mistake was adding the squid ink before the toffee was completely cooked, since I relied on the color to tell doneness. Luckily, I was able to guess when the toffee reached temperature (before burned and turned bitter) by the bubbles. Plus seafood and butter made sense to me!

You said the other contestants’ Bundt cakes were simpler. Do you think your more complex take helped you?
I think substituting the tomato soup as part of the liquid in the cake was the key to my surviving that round. Adding ganache and caramel, which seemed like a good idea for a dessert, was perceived by the judges as going overboard…

What did you win for being the best chef of that episode?
For winning the Chopped Cake episode, I won the chance to go back and compete in the Sweets Finale. And the ability to claim that I am a Chopped Champion. That’s it!

For the finale, the pressure seemed stronger. And did the ingredients seem weirder?
The ingredients were pretty weird in all six of my rounds (in both shows), but in every round there were at least two items that were easier to address. With Martha Stewart judging and that $50,000 on the line, the pressure was more intense in the finale.

It appeared as if the closer the show drew to the end, the more camaraderie there was among contestants. Did you feel that way?
Not particularly. In between rounds, there was a minimum of conversation between contestants. We were all coping with a very stressful situation together, but since we were still in it, I think we all kept pretty focused and to ourselves.

What was the most intimidating/challenging thing in that episode? What was the best?
Making a dessert to flambé was really tough for me. A new experience! I considered using the cotton candy machine but hadn’t done so before and didn’t want to count on it without any prior experience. The high point was making desserts for Martha Stewart and hearing positive feedback. One of my favorite cookbooks as a young baker was Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts, so I am a huge fan!

You got good feedback on your flavor. And your flambé looked so pretty! Judge Alex Guarnaschelli said you are “such an unbelievable baker.” Is that how you were able to walk away saying you were “feeling like a winner for sure”?

Going into the whole “Chopped” experience, I had no expectation of getting through even one round. So winning one episode and being the runner up in another constitutes a big accomplishment in my view. Being a business owner, I spend lots of time on office stuff like marketing, hiring, accounting, scheduling, etc and not much in the kitchen anymore. So I was proud to have gotten as far as I did!

Is there anything you learned from the experience that you might bring back to your students?

My take-away from filming two “Chopped” episodes is:
1. Practice, prepare, and be as ready as possible (for life, for baking, for anything)
2. Trust your instincts
3. Do work you are proud of
4. Remember to have fun and not take yourself too seriously

Walt Bowman speaking at graduation.

Cypress College Remembers Walt Bowman, Alumnus and Foundation Board Member

Cypress College is remembering long-time Foundation Board of Directors Member and Alumnus Walter Bowman, who passed away on Sunday (November 17, 2019). Mr. Bowman, a former mayor of Cypress, is being memorialized this evening.

Mr. Bowman’s association with Cypress College is long and strong. He enrolled at Cypress College following military service in the Army. In 2006, he was recognized as the Cypress College Foundation’s Alumnus of the Year. He served on the Foundation Board of Directors since 1993, was a past president, past chairman of the Americana Awards, past title sponsor of Americana, a Citizen of the Year from Cypress in 2002, and a member of the college’s Legacy Society.

“Walt made an impact on me as one of the most thoughtful, kind, and dedicated individuals we will know,” said Cypress College President JoAnna Schilling, Ph.D. “Cypress College and our community will miss him deeply and so will I.”

A service for Mr. Bowman will be held tonight (November 21, 2019) at Cypress’s Holy Cross Lutheran Church, where he had been a member of the choir.

Mr. Bowman moved to Orange County in 1978 from his family dairy farm in Michigan only to settle in Cypress, which was known as “Dairy City” in the early 1950s.

“I think many people feel the way I do — and they are proud of the community and I want to make sure it stays this way,” Mr. Bowman said in 2001, following his selection as the Americana Awards Citizen of the Year for Cypress. “That’s why I stay involved. I think Cypress has a good family atmosphere and it is a really nice place to live and raise children.”

Walter and his wife Ethel have served their community for many years, volunteering with groups their children were involved in, including Little League, boosters, and PTA.

In addition to his strong association with Cypress College, Mr. Bowman spent a number of years on the Cypress City Council (1989-98), including service as the town’s mayor (1991 and 1996). He was a long-time board member with the Cypress Chamber of Commerce, and was named the organization’s Man of the Year in 2000. He is a former director of the Boys & Girls Club of Cypress, former chairman of the Cypress Redevelopment Agency, the Permit Streamlining Committee of the Southern California Associations of Governments, and former chairman of the Orange County Housing Commission. He also served as president of the Stanton Chamber of Commerce, the Stanton Boys & Girls Club, and Kiwanis.

Since 1974, Mr. Bowman was the proprietor of a successful real estate business. He earned an associate degree in business administration from Cypress College, and a bachelor’s degree in finance from California State University, Long Beach. He also served in the U.S. Army for three years.

Walt and Ethel Bowman, pictured at the 2006 Americana Awards.

#CYProfessional: Maha Afra, Department Chair, Instructor, Dance

At Cypress College, we are proud of our employees and realize that recognizing personal and professional achievements, along with establishing a human connection between students, faculty, and staff, promotes a collegial atmosphere imbued with the Charger Spirit! Our employees always strive for excellence and make significant contributions to the campus and surrounding communities every day. We are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProfessional educators like Maha.

What was your path to Cypress?

I found out there is something called a dance major by pure coincidence. I was taking a ballet class and one of the students said, “I’m getting my MFA in dance.” And I said, “What?” I asked the teacher, and she said, “Oh, yeah; she’s a dance major.” I looked it up – and it exists!

I graduated from UC Irvine in 2001. That was my second schooling. I changed majors; I went from science to dance because I didn’t know there was a dance major. Once I found out there was a dance major I went back and got my BA, then my MFA, in dance.

In February 2002, I got a part-time gig at Fullerton College where I was teaching one course. It was “Stretch and Relaxation.” I’ll never forget, I taught in the faculty dining room, where we had to move all the tables and chairs and there was a carpet on the floor where we had to remove all the crumbs.

That was my first gig with the North Orange County Community College District. My colleague who used to work there moved here, and she brought me as a part-timer. I don’t remember what year, but I think in 2004 and I became an adjunct here, and at Fullerton… and at seven places. I used to teach in one semester in seven colleges.

In 2009 I became interim, and then I got the full-time job in 2010. After I got my tenure four years later, I became the chair of this department.

What inspires you as a teacher?

A lot of things. The human beings you work with in the classroom. These are people whom we as teachers have the ability to make a difference in their life – in a good way and in a bad way, so, hopefully in a good way.

Also, our current students are my heroes. I get inspired by them. They work, many of them, full time; many of them more than one job. So many of them have children, so many of them are single parents. So many of them support their families and they come to school, too. Many of them don’t have a car; they have to take the bus. So this is what inspires me. I look in awe at them – how could you not? How could you be bored in this job, looking at these human beings every day, struggling and still trying to make it?

How do you balance your work as an instructor with your other professional/creative work?

<laughs>Well, it’s a big challenge. Basically, I’m grateful for one thing that’s within me, which I got from my parents: discipline. I am a very disciplined person. I try to use my time very efficiently without wasting time on things that don’t add value to life – not only my life but other people’s lives.

So far, I’ve been lucky to balance a big responsibility here, and the responsibilities I choose to be in. Plus I have my own dance company outside of here which is a non-profit. Plus, I have my family; I have three grown kids, and I have to see them every week.

The price I’ve had to pay is in my social life. I used to have an amazing social life – having time to go out dancing. Just to dance! I haven’t had that privilege anymore. I used to see my friends more often, now I don’t have time; I don’t have time to have a luxurious lunch somewhere or visit somebody. This is where I’ve had to sacrifice.

But it’s OK. Nothing is perfect. Everything has a price. We all have to choose what price to pay. I believe in not only being involved in the department or the division, we all are a community and if we don’t get involved, how do we call it our college? We need to get unified; we need to work together to make it one. If there’s no sense of community what’s the point?

Is there anything else you’re working on at the moment?

At the moment, this is crunch time for the concert Celebration of Dance. We’ve been working really, really hard since the beginning of the semester. People don’t know how much time and energy and effort and pain of not only the students but the choreographers. This semester, we have faculty choreographers and we have student choreographers and designers… It’s really tons of work, and you can’t count time. You can’t say “Oh, it’s time to leave!” No, when you need to stay, you have to stay.

We put in so many hours on nights and weekends. Tech day is Saturday – 8 in the morning to 8 at night. After that it’s Hell Week, where we’re here at night, and we have to be here and make it happen. Then the gods of theater and dance bring it together and hopefully give people good energy, give them hope, give them diversity, which is very important, I’m big on diversity, and give them beauty. But that doesn’t happen automatically.

The slots for guest artists are being filled by the dance ensemble. This is the company that represents Cypress College on and off campus. That’s what I’m busy with, and also getting ready for a American College Dance Association conference and getting ready to go there. It’s only once a year, where universities and colleges get together for master classes and to look at each other’s work.

Always busy – and grateful.

If there is any other information you’d like to share, please feel free.

Please come see our concert! This concert is you – this is Cypress College. Please come celebrate what we have at Cypress College. We’re offering a special price for groups of eight or more: $5 a ticket. This is, like, less than a burger and fries. We are happy to put their names at the box office and they will get that deal. Hopefully the whole community will come here and be proud of what we have. We have a strong visual arts and performing arts program.

Part of the Celebration of Dance is collaborative work between the students of Media Arts Design and the Music students. The students don’t know each other and they didn’t even talk to each other while they were making their projects. So, it’s like a collaboration that’s blind. Artistic freedom coming together in one space.

We have two main performances: November 29, 30, and December 1 at 7 pm, then another one at December 2 at 4 pm. December 3 we have a choreographers’ showcase, where we will have the dance classes showcasing what they did during the semester.

Oh, and on December 4, the dance ensemble will be doing a special performance for the Mortuary Science program. This is, like, oh my gosh, my heart… The department gets bodies donated to them and these bodies – these humans – have nobody to bury them and honor them, so they’re doing a special ceremony to honor them. The dance ensemble is doing a performance to honor these angels who have helped our education.

Ed. – For Celebration of Dance information, including tickets, click here.


#CYProfessional: Kathleen Troy, Department Coordinator, Instructor, Management & Marketing

At Cypress College, we are proud of our employees and realize that recognizing personal and professional achievements, along with establishing a human connection between students, faculty, and staff, promotes a collegial atmosphere imbued with the Charger Spirit! Our employees always strive for excellence and make significant contributions to the campus and surrounding communities every day. We are pleased to feature distinguished #CYProfessional educators like Kathleen.

What was your path to Cypress?

I started as an adjunct in 1988, and was hired full time in 2014. I’m possibly the longest running adjunct. I knew Cypress was a really good school, I loved teaching here, and I wanted to be full time.

Prior to working at Cypress, I taught for the University of Redlands’ accelerated graduate and undergraduate program as a dissertation advisor. And more – I was Director of Education for the Archdiocese in Los Angeles, I worked as a criminal defense attorney, and I worked on Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign. It’s a lot.

What inspires you as a teacher?

You know, it’s really fun. I‘ve had lots of corporate jobs, and I hated all of them. My students are all really smart. I’m with smart people every day. How many people can say that about their work environment?

How do you balance your work as an instructor with your other professional/creative work?

It’s really tough. I own two other businesses.

I’ve owned a design business, since 1991, that designs anything in the home – libraries, kitchens, etc. It’s a small company; I have 11 employees.

And I own a winery with three other people in Paso Robles. I do all the legal work – marketing, sales, and legal. It’s a beautiful area.

Is there anything else you’re working on at the moment?

Yes! I write children’s books. Young adults, for boys 13-15, and am working on a series. It’s about a down-and-out con artist who’s 15 and his life isn’t going too well.

I also train service dogs. Right now I have a Cocker Spaniel, Dylan, who goes to hospice. He’s so darn cute, he gets a lot of mileage out of it.