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Meet Jen Myhre, A Distinguished Educator

Photo of Jen MyhreSociology instructor Jen Myhre identified community college teaching as her goal early in her doctoral studies at UC Davis, believing that the community college system is one of the few remaining places in society dedicated to educational democracy and the idea that everyone has a right to higher education.

"I believe that learning happens when we make connections, both human and intellectual," Myhre wrote in an e-mail. "I try to make sure that my students feel seen and heard by me and that they feel I have come to know them in some way. I try to build their trust, communicate that I am curious about them and that they have something to offer the class in their knowledge and experiences.

"I want students to make intellectual connections between the ideas of sociology and their own lives," Myhre continued. "I want them to be able to find themselves in the course readings and also find how the course readings can help them name and make sense of their own experiences. In their daily reading journals, I also invite students to make connections between what we are learning in sociology and what they have learned in other classes and in other disciplines."

Prior to obtaining her Ph.D. in sociology from UC Davis, Myrhe studied medical sociology for two years at UCSF. She holds a B.A. in psychology from The American University in Washington, D.C.

"I see Jen as a role model, both as an educator and as a human being," said Humanities instructor Sal Breiter. "She is compassionate and critical in her approach to teaching, constantly changing and improving her approach to facilitate student growth and learning. She works harder than any other instructor I know, her pedagogy driven by what is best for her students and not what is convenient for her. I appreciate that she focuses on real-world issues that are significant to students' lived experiences. She encourages her students to see themselves as active participants in sociology, as actors in the discipline and in their own unfolding histories. Her approach fosters student engagement, transformation and empowerment."

Myhre has taught at De Anza for seven years. Currently the Faculty Association (FA) conciliator, she has served on the Diversity Advisory Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Student Equity Task Team. She has participated in the White Women Allies anti-racism group at De Anza and has co-facilitated anti-racism and white privilege awareness retreats.

"The first time I stepped foot into my very own discussion section as a teaching assistant, I knew I had found my home," wrote Myhre. "I sometimes tell folks that in the classroom, I feel like a fish in water. It just feels like I belong."

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Contact: Olga Evert
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Last Updated: 9/30/08