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一道本不卡免费高清Since the creation of Pacific Oaks, community has formed the foundation of our institution, welcoming different cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives as an opportunity to enhance the learning, service, and success of our students.

一道本不卡免费高清At Pacific Oaks, the power of community means many things. It means respecting the communities our students come from. It means valuing their unique perspectives and experience as they join our community, helping strengthen and diversify our College. And it means supporting and guiding them as they use their past as a foundation to positively impact the future of communities they will go on to serve.



Click on the images below to read what the power of community means to different members of our Pacific Oaks family.

Advocate for Change


The power of community means learning how to advocate for change.

一道本不卡免费高清Denise Smith knew she wanted to do more to help children. The water crisis in  Flint, Michigan provided her the chance to answer the call. The community of Flint with strong and resilient residents rebounding from high poverty, troubled schools, and disinvestment reminded Detroit, her hometown.

After earning her master’s degree in Human Development一道本不卡免费高清 from Pacific Oaks, Denise Smith had held a range of positions in early childhood education and childcare, an administrator for Early Head Start and Head Start programs; a director of Michigan’s tiered quality rating and improvement system (TQRIS), and vice president of  a non profit dedicated to early learning from the cradle to career education reform.

一道本不卡免费高清The crisis in Flint called for comprehensive interventions to prevent the most at-risk children in the town  who may have been impacted by high lead concentrations from suffering disproportionately. Denise pulled from the training and experience she gained at Pacific Oaks and joined forces with a diverse group of civic leaders to find solutions for this community in great need. Together, they opened two high-quality early childhood centers in two years’ time.

In 2017 she was hired as executive director for the Flint Early Childhood Collaborative and Educare Flint. Educare is a nationally recognized nonprofit providing early childhood programs to financially disadvantaged infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. The program currently serves 220 children and families in Flint on an annual basis, with plans to grow. For example, it’s sister school Cummings Great Expectations shares in the mission to provide high quality child care and early education that is developmentally accurate, linguistically appropriate, and customized to fit each individual child’s needs.Together, these schools are providing constant care to a community in great need bringing comfort and support to hundreds of children and their families.

“Pacific Oaks introduced me to intricacies of infant toddler work, and the dance between child and provider,” she says. “If children are given the opportunities and experiences like those we’re helping to provide in Flint, they can become their best selves.”

Denise Smith
一道本不卡免费高清Pacific Oaks College

一道本不卡免费高清,” the online community of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Eventually NAEYC recognized that she was driving interactions and building up the relationships in the forums and offered her a job. As the Hello Community Engagement Manager, Sontag lives out Pacific Oaks’ mission for community-focused education.

“I wouldn’t have been able to help support bringing special education to preschool teachers without Pacific Oaks. I wanted to help build up the community at Hello, because I saw the ways I needed this in my career,” Sontag says. “At Pacific Oaks, I had experiences that prepared me to give advice to others in early childhood education about bringing a focus on equity in the classroom, and also understand the broader context of how to be a leader.”

Lark Sontag
一道本不卡免费高清Pacific Oaks College

Finding a home

Headshots_360x36015The Power of Community means finding a home away from home.

Yoland Treviño, a marriage & family therapy alumna and former board member at Pacific Oaks, brings a unique perspective to education and social justice in America due to her indigenous background.

For someone who emigrated from Guatemala, it’s important to Treviño that the things she does connect with her values as an indigenous Mayan woman. Her respect for her heritage is underscored by the years of hiding it in order to get to where she is today. According to Treviño, families in the Mayan community often hide the true identity of indigenous children so they are able to get educated.

一道本不卡免费高清“My family knew that in order to make it in the world, you needed an education,” Treviño says. “In Guatemala, there was terrible discrimination against indigenous people. There was a lot of internalized oppression and they didn’t want me to speak our language or wear our native dress because they wanted me to be able to have opportunities.”

This led Treviño to immigrate to America with her father and siblings when she was just 15 years old. Her first years in Los Angeles were tough—she went from having a tight-knit community in Guatemala to experiencing isolation and an entirely new culture.

That all changed when she found Pacific Oaks College. Treviño connected with Pacific Oaks’ vision of education, and even moved to Pasadena in 1974 to be closer and send her boys to The Children’s School. She later went on to serve on Pacific Oaks’ Board of Trustees.

“As a mother, I’m the steward of my children. They were given to me to love and to nurture. It was my duty to help them become the best human beings they could be. In looking for that, I found Pacific Oaks,” Treviño says. “From the time I learned about it, I felt like I had found my home. I felt like my values were represented here, and that the school was reflective of what I thought was a true education.”

Yoland Treviño
Pacific Oaks College

Campus experience online

Headshots_360x36013The Power of Community means bringing the campus experience online.

一道本不卡免费高清Life can come at you fast. Sometimes, that means putting your priorities on hold. For Pacific Oaks College alumnus and Chicago resident Stephen Anderson, it meant waiting until his mid-30s to pursue his bachelor’s degree.

Ironically, Anderson had been working in the field of higher education for years as an enrollment coordinator. But the daily demand of work combined with responsibilities at home made pursuing his own education difficult, if not impossible. He also wasn’t sure what type of degree program could best benefit his career long term.

Then, he discovered Pacific Oaks through his work in admissions operations at Pacific Oaks’ partner organization, TCS Education System.

“When I looked into Pacific Oaks, I realized the human development program could lead me down a variety of career paths,” Anderson says. “It’s a degree that can set you up for success in many different things. In my position at TCS, I would notice that graduates in human development were continuing their education with a master’s in organizational leadership, counseling, counseling psychology, marriage and family therapy, or any other number of fields.”

The fact the program is offered online gave Anderson greater flexibility to balance work and personal life with his educational goals. He also didn’t need to leave Chicago. “I think I even surprised myself,” he says. “Because through it all—working full time and managing a team—I was still able to graduate from a school 2,000 miles away with a 4.0 GPA.”

一道本不卡免费高清Anderson believes the culture Pacific Oaks has worked to develop can be felt far beyond the campus classrooms. It is a culture of community reflected in the online programs, too. After finally graduating with his B.A. in Human Development at the age of 36, he credits his experience at Pacific Oaks with helping him move his career forward—he was recently promoted to director of admissions operations.

“Going to college is never what you expect,” Anderson says. “But during my online program at Pacific Oaks College, there was a sense of community and support that gave me the confidence to finish my degree. Everyone pushed me to be better, and finally meeting my classmates and teachers at graduation was a moment I’ll never forget. Online school can be a challenge, but Pacific Oaks makes it worthwhile.”

Stephen Anderson
一道本不卡免费高清Pacific Oaks College

Life experience matters

Headshots_360x36019 (1)The Power of Community means your life experience matters.

Aubrey Kliaman has always loved teaching. It’s a passion that began during a summer job as a teenager and eventually inspired her to pursue teaching full time. Ironically, she left college before graduation to fully commit to her career as an educator.

“At some point, I decided that college just really wasn’t for me,” says Kliaman, who worked with preschoolers, kindergarteners, first graders, and children with special needs. After teaching for 20 years, her school closed, forcing her to take a different direction. Confident in her skills and experience, Kliaman quickly found another teaching opportunity, but her decision to leave college years earlier suddenly became a major obstacle. The school wanted to hire her, but needed her to complete more college units for employment eligibility.

“I was definitely worried. I hadn’t been to school in almost 20 years,” she says. “Then, I remembered that different mentors during my career had talked about how Pacific Oaks changed their idea of traditional education, and how much they loved it.”

She enrolled in the B.A. in Human Development program, with a concentration in early childhood education and development. Through Pacific Oaks’ Credit for Learning from Experience program, Kliaman was able to transform her 20 years of teaching experience into credit toward her degree.

“I don’t think pursuing my bachelor’s degree would have been an option if I wasn’t able to gain credit for my experience,” Kliaman says. “Completing almost 30 additional credits isn’t something that I was ready or willing to do, so allowing my experience to count as credit really sort of changed my life.”

Kliaman excelled in the program and credits Pacific Oaks’ teaching style with allowing her to look deeper into her personal development. Students in any academic program are regularly encouraged to relate course subject material to their own personal experiences—sharing with their teacher and fellow students.

“Throughout the program, I just continued to grow as a person,” she says. “Every time I went to class or did an assignment, I felt like I grew as a human being. The way the classes are structured in terms of deep learning through conversation made a huge difference for me.”

In May 2017, more than 20 years removed from initially dropping out of college, Kliaman finally graduated with her bachelor’s degree. And she enjoyed her experience so much that she decided to pursue her master’s degree at Pacific Oaks, too, graduating in May 2019.

“In my time at Pacific Oaks, it wasn’t just about coming to class, doing your work, and leaving,” she says. “It was about being part of a community and supporting each other. I’ve made long-lasting friendships in the short time that I was there because we supported each other, and the experience is something I’ll never forget.”

Aubrey Kliaman
一道本不卡免费高清Pacific Oaks College

and graduated from Pacific Oaks College.

“The theory behind promoting college in preschool and kindergarten is that we should be preparing all children to be college and career ready. Whether they choose those paths or not is their own choice, but we should be talking about it and preparing them academically for college or career all the way,” Davis says.

With decor focused on Pacific Oaks College & Children’s School, the conversation isn’t meant to overwhelm the classroom—but rather complement the traditional course. “We talk about it when the opportunity is there, like when a visitor comes in, we talk about where they went to college. If the connection is there, we make that connection for the children,” Davis says.

Having attended The Children’s School as a toddler, her path eventually brought her back to Pacific Oaks to become an educator. Growing up near Pasadena, Davis intended to go away for college, but after a few semesters realized that the education she was seeking was available right at home. Although the memories about The Children’s School had faded, the feelings the school gave her never went away.

“I remembered it from my childhood as somewhere free and easy, somewhere I felt comfortable, which was not a typical feeling for me outside my home. It was a happy place for me when I was little,” Davis says. “When I went off to college, I realized that not every place is so child focused, and I wanted to be the teacher that focused on the child and the child’s future.”

The community she strives to encourage in her classroom is in service to her ultimate goal to make learning and school fun for students at a young age, so they do continue on and one day find themselves in college—whether at Pacific Oaks or somewhere else.

一道本不卡免费高清By bringing Pacific Oaks into her kindergarten classroom through a bulletin board, conversations, and her noble efforts as a teacher, maybe she’ll also inspire one of her students to join the Pacific Oaks community someday.

Yvonne Davis
Pacific Oaks College

Freedom to explore your identity

Headshots_360x360_Sharon Chang_1

The Power of Community means the freedom to explore identity.

Sharon H. Chang remembers the odd looks she got when she was a little girl. She remembers the pain of feeling out of place in the world, whether it was in the town where she grew up in Connecticut, or visiting family in Taiwan and China. Most of all, she remembers the question that would never go away: “What are you?”

Those early experiences stayed with her as she embarked on a journey that brought her to Pacific Oaks College. And she graduated in 2013 with more than just a master’s degree. Chang’s in-depth research into the Asian diaspora and what it means to be multicultural in America culminated in a book that has launched a career for her as an activist, blogger, and public speaker.

“I credit Pacific Oaks for accelerating my journey,” says Chang, explaining that her master’s thesis was the start of her book, Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Children in a Post-Racial World. “I knew I wanted a school that would give me room to breathe and think about how my personal experiences could shape my professional ambitions. I didn’t realize my training would move me in the direction of book writing, critique, and analysis.”

Chang received an M.A. in Human Development with an Early Childhood Education specialization and now serves Community Dialogues Program Manager at Families of Color Seattle. Based on her own experiences and academic training, she helps others address the complex questions that race and ethnicity pose in the U.S. today.

“When I had my son, Kazuo, I found myself facing questions I’d faced my whole life,” says Chang, explaining that her son is of Japanese, Taiwanese, and Caucasian American ancestry. “I could see what happened to me happening to him—he had those same questions. ‘Why do people stop and stare?’ ‘Why do people ask where my parents are from?’ ‘Why does it feel irritating after a while? And exhausting?’ ‘What does it mean to be mixed race, and what is race?’”

The dialogical approach to education in a Pacific Oaks classroom, she says, prepared her well to engage in these raw, sometimes emotional and complicated discussions with her own son and many others interested in understanding how they fit into the world around them.

She also wants to help multiracial Asian families sort through similar questions like that, and help to create the formation of a positive identity.

“I aim to provide others with the tools and vocabulary needed to more readily navigate the waters of racial identity,” she says. “By developing more of a questioning, critical awareness of how race impacts and shapes our lives, we can all contribute to making the world a more racially just place.

Paving your own path


The Power of Community means paving your own path.

一道本不卡免费高清Byron Flitsch has been telling stories all his life. Some are far-fetched tales of fiction and some are his own creatively reimagined takes on real-life experiences.

As a result, the Pacific Oaks College alumnus has won multiple creative writing awards and scholarships and has lived a life some would envy—penning travel articles for Forbes and doing freelance pieces on some of his favorite celebrities for MTV.

But Flitsch gained a different kind of public attention in the spring of 2016, winning a “Teacher of the Year” award in Pasadena, Calif., that he says represents the professional transformation he made as a result of his Pacific Oaks education.

“After a career in writing, it took a lot of soul searching for me to finally realize that I actually belonged in education,” says Flitsch, who earned a master’s degree in education from Pacific Oaks in 2015 and was immediately hired at Aveson Charter School, where he had student-taught during his degree program. “I knew I needed to find a place that was going to be nurturing, and I found that in Pacific Oaks. The ‘Teacher of the Year’ award just affirms that I made the right choice, and I’m so honored.”

Flitsch believes he landed his job so quickly after graduation in part because he learned things at Pacific Oaks that he could immediately implement in the classroom.

一道本不卡免费高清“Those practical hands-on lessons continue to be invaluable,” he says. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more from my education at Pacific Oaks.”

For example, Flitsch designed a seating configuration in his classroom to maximize student collaboration for homework one week, and then rehabbed his entire classroom at Aveson the next. He also learned to incorporate his personal passions—narrative writing, photography, blogging, and web design—into the lesson plans for his 4th and 5th graders.

一道本不卡免费高清The result has been life-changing.

“One of my students is dyslexic and hated writing. But after several months of focused work with him, he is sending me poems and personal essays written in his free time. There is nothing better than seeing a child’s eyes widen with understanding,” says Flitsch, who has also begun volunteering with a scholar mentorship program where he “adopts” two 7th一道本不卡免费高清 grade students each month and takes them on cultural field trips in the area.

一道本不卡免费高清“One of my fears was that being a teacher meant I was giving up on my other passions,” he says. “But instead, this job has only highlighted and motived me to continue pressing on in my own personal dreams and endeavors.”

一道本不卡免费高清One of those dreams is writing a children’s book series, something he is starting to work on with the help of some of the literary world’s most esteemed editors—his students.

“I can’t tell you how many kids have lectured me for promising I’d get them another story from my children’s book, and when I miss a deadline, they don’t let me forget it!” Flitsch says fondly. “Kids are the best cheerleaders and fan club. I wouldn’t trade my life today for the world.”

Transforming pain into strength


The Power of Community means transforming pain into strength.

Pacific Oaks College alumna Karina Murillo, M.A., worked as an early childhood educator for nearly eight years after graduating with her bachelor’s degree from Pacific Oaks. It was while working with children in the classroom that she first began to take notice of children’s lack of exposure to issues surrounding equity and diversity.

一道本不卡免费高清“As a minority, I realized this was an important topic to talk about—not just for adults, but for children as well,” Murillo says. “I noticed people aren’t really comfortable talking about class, race, and how those things affect our lives. I would even get backlash from people saying that children cannot talk about race.”

一道本不卡免费高清Then Pacific Oaks launched its Advocacy & Social Justice program. Murillo returned to school to broaden her own knowledge about racial discrimination, community marginalization, and biased curriculum, receiving a full scholarship to the program.

一道本不卡免费高清“I had never seen a degree program like this before,” Murillo says. “It was transformational. Beyond the intellectual component where you are expanding your knowledge, it pushes you to unveil truths about yourself. As a minority Latina who grew up in a one-parent household, I understood the repercussions of what it means to have a racialized experience. Hearing about similar experiences from classmates and reading about them in our textbooks made my lived experience feel valid for once.

一道本不卡免费高清“While it was somewhat traumatizing and painful to relive—through journaling, assignments, and interviews—it was also empowering to discover that there are so many different academics discussing these topics. It is empowering to know that the information is accessible to us. The next step is to then do something with it.”

Often, Murillo says, people may be unaware of their own racialized trauma, which can compound over time. She emphasizes the importance of exploring one’s self and focusing on personal healing first, something she was allowed to do in Pacific Oaks unique classroom environment. “If you want to be a fountain of change, you don’t want your water to be poisoned,” she says. “Healing your own trauma helps prepare you to address those faced by others.”

一道本不卡免费高清In the summer of 2019, Murillo was part of the first graduating class of the Advocacy & Social Justice program. She now plans to return to the field of education with more control over the narrative that children are exposed to. She is hoping to form a nonprofit community center where children can explore issues such as diversity and equity and where parents can learn to advocate for alternative forms of education that better represent the diversity of stories in the U.S.

“There is a need to educate parents as well and, really, our communities as a whole, about the importance of these issues and their history,” Murillo says. “Once people are more aware and can see how these issues may affect them, we can begin to transform the way our educational systems work. Understanding the power in our individual stories and making sure that we are always using it to uplift each other for equity and change is essential. But it doesn’t occur unless we all do it together as a form of collective liberation.”

Discover how the power of community can positively impact your education.

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一道本不卡免费高清Christopher Franz is the student speaker at Pacific Oak’s 59th Commencement ceremonies on May 11.

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Read Dr. Chamberlain’s full statement regarding the recent proposal and subsequent reversal to eliminate federal funding for the Special Olympics.