SMC Extension/Community Education will be offering a new class this fall, “Property Management – Residential, Commercial, Industrial,” a career in which employment prospects are solid.

Los Angeles is filled with commercial, residential and industrial properties needing managers (Photo by Dietmar Rabich, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

In fact, employment of property, real estate and community association managers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Although SMC Extension/Community Ed has offered residential property management courses in the past, this class also covers the commercial and industrial areas as well. And the course will be taught by an instructor who brings more than 25 years of experience in real estate.

Donyea Adams has provided professional real estate advisory services for both the public and private sectors, and previous private sector assignments include commercial real estate advisory services, affordable housing resident manager and affordable housing rehabilitation development management.

Adams received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Pepperdine University in 2004 and a Master’s Degree in Real Estate Development from the University of Southern California School of Policy Planning and Development in 2008.

He has maintained an active California Real Estate Broker license since 1994. In 2009, he set up a consulting service to provide professional real estate advisory and investment services to corporations, private entities and local government authorities.

What are the rewards of property management?

The reward is to provide a service to a property owner that will result in generating income, delivering well-qualified tenants, and increasing the market value of the property.

What are the challenges?

The challenges to property management are the legal issues that can disrupt the property operation such as evictions, as well as city and state compliance. Also, staying in front of the rental market by providing leasing comps and market analysis.

A Koreatown apartment building (Photo by downtowngal, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Please explain briefly the differences between residential, commercial and industrial property management and what can be expected with each.

The differences between residential, commercial and industrial property management are numerous. Residential property management is focused on managing homes and apartment communities for the benefit of tenant possession and use. Tenants will reside on the property as a long-term residence or short-term residence. The lease agreement for residential property is typically 6 months to 1 year. The property conditions are regulated at the local, state, and federal level. The security deposit is based on the property being furnished or vacant and the maintenance of the property is generally the responsibility of the property management agent or property owner. The property manager will focus on selecting the best-qualified tenant, maintaining the property in good condition, and generating as much income as possible for the landlord/owner.

Commercial and industrial property management is very different than residential management. Commercial and industrial tenant communities are small and large businesses that need to occupy space to conduct their business. The lease terms can expand from 6 months to 30 years. The property use and condition can be controlled by the tenant. The lease type will fluctuate depending on what the landlord and tenant agree to pay.

So with these minimal differences in residential and commercial/industrial leasing the property manager focused on commercial and industrial property needs to have the skill set to provide both the landlord and the tenant with a service that will add value to the leasing experience. The commercial property manager needs to understand the environmental issues the property may have as well as the legal complexity of a lease agreement. The manager is associated with trade organizations that cater to commercial, industrial, and office rentals and development and typically the property manager will have an advanced college degree.

An industrial park (Photo by Uwe Haring, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

What kinds of opportunities are there in commercial and industrial property management in L.A.?

There are lots of opportunities in property management. A person can work as an asset manager, leasing agent, or property supervisor. The entry to the industry is not difficult but may require training, a degree and understanding of the commercial and industrial market. Commercial and industrial property management requires a dedication to managing commercial and industrial real estate and is typically exclusive to that real estate category. The salary is different as well and tends to offer a higher salary than residential property management. Commercial property management is typically tied to commercial real estate sales and in both cases requires a real estate broker or salesperson license.

Donyea Adams will teach“Property Management – Residential, Commercial, Industrial,”  Oct. 20-27.

Photo by Ailin Blour

In January, SMC Community Ed entered into a fruitful relationship with SMC Fashion program instructors who asked us to offer classes to supplement their academic classes that are crucial to fashion industry training, to existing students as well as interested members of the public.

Four months later, the SMC Fashion Department held its highly anticipated and stunningly creative annual fashion show, LA MODE 2018 – and SMC Community Ed was pleased to have contributed in the stellar event.

See more photos from the LA MODE 2018

“We’ve been offering two classes, Tech Pack and Commercial Sewing Bootcamp, both taught by wonderful instructors from the academic program,” said Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education. “Fashion students from the main campus have been able to take our classes, not only for their careers but also to help them prepare their garments for LA MODE.

Photo by Jeff Bynum

“I was blown away by the student creations I saw at the fashion show, many of which held great potential to one day be on a Paris or New York runway,” Meyering said.

Then, in another synergistic connection, SMC photography students took the images of the show that are included in this article.

Photo by Ailin Blour

“SMC Community Ed has had a long and rewarding relationship with the academic Photography program – several of their instructors have taught our successful classes for decades,” Meyering said. And, interestingly, Photography and Fashion are combined into one academic department.

“I am thrilled that we now have a stake, however modest, in LA MODE, which displays the incredible works of our future designers. And I expect to continue to have a fantastic relationship with the Photography and Fashion Department,” Meyering said. “It’s particularly rewarding to see how students are able to benefit from our program as well as the for-credit program, and how we are often able to feed students into the academic classes.”

By Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education

Shauna Murray is the kind of student we love. In Spring 2015 she registered for her first photography class at SMC Community Ed and was so inspired she continued to take classes, not only with us but also in the academic program on the main SMC campus.

Shauna Murray, Self Portrait. This image won “Best Lifestyle Photo” in the 2018 SMC Student Photo Show.

Three years later, she is just 10 academic units short of getting a Photography Certificate from SMC, she won an award in the recent Annual SMC Student Photo Show (“Best Lifestyle Photo”), and she is working in the photography field – collaborating with designers, brands, producers, stylists, creative directors and other photographers.

“If you had told me four years ago that I’d be a professional photographer now I wouldn’t have believed you,” Shauna told us. “I’ve been so grateful for the guidance and support I’ve gotten from SMC, both Community Ed and the academic program. It’s definitely changed my life.”

Shauna Murray photo, taken from the High Line in New York City

Shauna, who lives in Venice after having moved 10 years ago from Colorado, was working as the Communications Director for a music-and-arts-based nonprofit in Los Angeles when a friend of hers told her she was taking a photography class at SMC Community Ed.

Shauna jumped at the opportunity to join her friend because, though she said she cared deeply about the work her organization was doing, she found herself spending the majority of her time working on tedious projects when she really wanted to be out in the field doing more creative work.

“I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures,” she said, “mostly snapshots of friends and family, places I’ve traveled, everyday life, and I started posting more images on Facebook and Instagram. I was pleasantly surprised with the positive feedback I received. Social media provided a fun place to make art of the everyday and share it with others without taking myself too seriously. At some point though, I started to ask myself ‘why not take this a little more seriously?'”

Rooftop Wedding, photo by Shauna Murray

She got a DSLR digital camera – previously all her images were captured on her cell phone or a point-and-shoot camera – and registered in Larry Jones’ Basic Photography class.

She loved it so much she continued to take another four classes at Community Ed and also started taking courses in the academic program in Fall 2015. In 2017, she was presented with an opportunity to make a career change and follow her passion into the photography field.

“The SMC Community Ed and academic programs have been so great and I’ve gotten to learn so much from these instructors and their professional expertise,” Shauna told us. “I’ve really learned to look at things differently and compose an image and tell a story and think about lighting and other aspects. I learned to think like a photographer.”

Photo by Shauna Murray

She finds LA an ideal city in which to create images.

“I’m often inspired by my surroundings in LA, whether it’s the natural beauty of the coast, the mural-covered streets of the city or the diverse mix of people and cultures that converge here,” she said. “In Community Ed workshops with Ed Mangus I discovered new places right here in LA that I’d never explored before. I also rediscovered places I thought I knew well and I saw them in a new way, with a photographer’s eye.”

She continued, “Photography brings so much joy to my life and my goal is for that to come through in my work. As an English major undergrad at the University of Colorado at Boulder I learned to think like a storyteller, and that’s how I approach photography, too. Whether I’m working with a client to execute their vision, or working on a personal project, I love figuring out how to tell a story with my camera.”

Thank you, Shauna, for inspiring us as much as we have inspired you.

You can also follow Shauna Murray on Instagram and Facebook.

Inspired by Shauna’s story? Are you ready to experience our photography classes yourself. Register into Fall semester’s Basic Digital Photography & Intermediate Digital Photography today, and you could be experiencing an amazing transformation just like Shauna!

We asked our Italian, French and Spanish instructors to give us tips for those who are planning to visit Italy, France or Chile this summer. Each of these instructors has great insight into the respective countries – and here is what they had to say!



Italian for Travelers will let students explore how to manage any situation they might face during their travels. From their arrival at any airports in Italy – gates, customs, baggage claims, duty free, etc. In regards to Uber, it is no longer active so travelers need to rely on alternatives for transportation to get to their destinations. At the hotels, I advise travelers follow concierge recommendations. At rental car companies, for scooters or drive friends/family vehicles, travelers are required to get the international driving license, which is only $20 and lasts for one year. You can get more information at the Triple A site.

If you prefer cycling, you will be able to use the City Share bikes similar to what is offered in Los Angeles. In case of emergencies, such as going to the hospital, visits are free of charge or a maximum of a few euros for treatment and medication! I also recommend that if you plan to shop, learn about the European sizes (different than those in America), familiarize yourself with textiles, and by all means, learn about the amazing cuisine!

Silvia Masera, Italian for Travelers


The charming Montmartre area of Paris

As you travel, enjoy the local sites. Rent an apartment or AirBnB in lieu of staying at a hotel. Shop and visit areas where the locals “hang out:” open markets, flea markets, local supermarkets, etc. Have conversations with them about the history and culture of the area (learn the history, experience the culture firsthand). Go to a local sports game.

If you want to do a tour of Paris, experience the boat ride on the Seine River, which has a guide who will explain the various historical sites and places. Or take the Big Bus Tour, which basically does the same. Also, a mini-tour in a Deux Chevaux (old French style car, loosely meaning 2 horsepower) can be fun as well. In the latter two, you can “hop on and hop off” at various stops.

Be adventurous and design your own tour.  Everyone doesn’t have the same desires.  Even, if you dare, take a cooking class and/or a language immersion class, which can last from 30 to 90 days.

Harriette McCauley, Beginning Conversational French for Travelers – Level 1


Santiago, Chile (Photo by Rodrigo Pizzaro, Wikimedia Commons)

Visit Northern Chile where the famous Hubble Telescope is and where the sky is the clearest in the world. Check the salt lagoons where you can float like in the Dead Sea. Discover fauna you only see in books: alpacas, condors, etc. or go to Patagonia where you can find the gorgeous glaciers. A must is Torres del Paine and staying at Explora Hotel (if you can afford it), which is in the heart of the park. Don’t wait too long – the glaciers are going to disappear in 30 years!

Go to Valparaíso, the main seaport and visit Cerro Alegre where many artists live and adorn the walls of this wonderful town (similar to San Francisco) with beautiful paintings. You can also get wonderful jewelry (Chile is famous for Lapiz lazuli)

Go to Viña del Mar, resort town suburb of Valparaîso. You can drive towards ConCon along the Pacific Ocean and stop by in any of the wonderful restaurants along the ocean to savor fish and seafood.

Visit Zapallar and eat at Chiringuito.  Fantastic food and Chilean wines. Zapallar and Papudo are resort towns on the water.

Visit Pablo Neruda’s home (famous Chilean poet and Nobel price winner) in Isla Negra – now a museum.

Go to Santiago, the capital. Climb to Cerro San Cristóbal to have a panoramic view of the city and take the funicular to the other side of town and land in Los Dominicos. The Old Spanish Monastery is now turned into an open market with all kinds of mementos: art and crafts, pottery, jewelry, antique furniture, etc. You can also eat here in a restaurant or have a soda and a sandwich in one of the smaller places.

Visit downtown Santiago – the oldest church, Pre-Columbian Museum, La Moneta (presidential palace), etc. Barrio Bellavista (artists), Plaza de Armas. evening cocktails at La Piojera (try pisco sour), and at sunset go to Sky Costanera.

You can’t leave Chile without visiting the vineyards around Santiago: Concha y Toro, Undurraga, Santa Rita, Cousiño Macul – all about 40 kilometers from Santiago or on your way to Viña del Mar, the vineyards in Casablanca.

The monetary unit is the PESO and right now the equivalent is about $640 to a dollar. You can change money easily at the airport or in any Casa de Cambio.

Drones have entered the national consciousness in many ways over the past few years, but what most people probably don’t know is that the future of careers in commercial drone piloting is booming.

Barry Brennen, who will teach the Commercial Drone Pilot Training program

The Federal Aviation Administration projects the commercial, small drone fleet is set to grow from 110,000-plus in 2017 to almost 452,000 in 2022. The number of commercial remote pilots is set to increase from 73,000-plus in 2017 to 301,000 in 2022.

And so, SMC Extension/Community Education – always on the lookout for training opportunities in careers with exceptional growth projections – will debut its Commercial Drone Pilot Training program this fall.

“I think the future in this is huge,” says Barry Brennen, owner of Redondo Beach-based Flying Lion, Inc., who will teach the courses for Extension/Community Ed. “The industry is growing because there are so many applications.”


The applications for drone use seem endless and grow every day – for law enforcement agencies, property developers, energy companies, nature preserves and environmentalists, cinema, agriculture and more.

Flying Lion, for example, has mostly law enforcement clients (including the Redondo Beach and Manhattan Beach Police Departments) that find drones helpful for many uses – including barricaded subject situations, serving search warrants (to detect anyone fleeing from the scene), beach crime monitoring, and crowd surveillance (such as medical emergencies or lost children).

But that’s just one field. Developers can do aerial surveys. Energy and public utility companies can use drones equipped with infrared to detect overheating in cell towers, solar panels, refineries and more. Search and rescue teams can use them for their operations.

And that’s not all. In Africa, where air traffic is much less congested than in most parts of the world and where there are fewer restrictions on drones, the unmanned aircraft are used to track poachers and deliver medication to rural areas, Brennen said.

Environmental and government agencies are using drones nicknamed “snot bots” to monitor whales’ blowholes to determine the health of the large sea mammals.

And at the sprawling Tejon Ranch Conservancy just north of Los Angeles, biologists are examining the distribution of invasive plants, observing the changes in oak canopy cover responding to drought, tracking invasive wild pig damage in sensitive habitats, and monitoring conifer mortality on rugged high elevation slopes.

The Commercial Drone Certification program will have three parts: FAA Test Prep (three Saturdays), Flight Training (two Saturdays) and an Externship, in which students will work 120 hours with a company that uses drones. Cost of the certification program is about $1,700.

Barry Brennen

Brennen, who was in the logistics field for 20 years before starting his company in 2014, said the birth of Flying Lions came about as a result of his Master’s of Business Administration degree at USC. In his Entrepreneurship class, his team had to pitch an idea for a business start-up, and he came up with the idea of a commercial drone firm. His team won the class competition.

As a reserve police officer with the Redondo Beach Police Department, it was a natural for him to reach out to law enforcement when he founded his company.

Then, driven by a passion for his field, he approached El Camino College to start a program and began teaching the certification course. He also teaches at Pasadena City College.

“I just love the teaching aspect of it – particularly the ah-ha moment when the students get it,” he said.

Brennen sees another advantage to commercial drone pilot training.

“Drones are going to be the way to get people excited about aviation,” he said, noting that the industry is facing a shortage of trained commercial pilots. “It’s a great gateway to get into flying.”

Barry Brennen will teach Commercial Drone Pilot Training beginning Oct. 13.

Ford Lowcock has had a long and distinguished career as a photographer and photography instructor at Santa Monica College, and though he has retired from SMC as a full-time professor, he will bring his many skills and talents to Community Ed beginning in July.

Leaving behind a stellar 23-year career on the main campus during which, under his leadership, the Photography Department became widely recognized as one of the top commercial photography programs in the country, Lowcock will team teach with Ed Mangus “Smartphone Photography” July 7 and 14. And this fall he will teach two new classes: “Adobe Photoshop for Photography – MAC” and “Advanced Digital Photographic Printing Workshop – MAC.” Classes are taught in the Photo Department’s main campus labs and facilities.

“Community Ed students have a wonderful desire to learn, to gain new skills and have fun all at the same time,” Lowcock said. “In addition, the program encourages many students to also consider taking academic photography classes. And Community Ed students get access to the main campus’ dark rooms and other facilities, so it’s a great community builder.”

This stunning image by Ford Lowcock was taken on a Smartphone and manipulated.

Lowcock brings with him an impressive list of achievements in photography – including a long list of highly technical and advanced skills – as well as in the academic realm. Before his retirement on Jan. 1 from SMC, he was an unofficial co-chair of the department for more than 10 years and chair for the last four years. He supervised as many as 45 faculty members and participated in the creation of a large percentage of the current photography curriculum.

He was instrumental in building an industry support base providing the department and students networking opportunities.

In addition, he led more than 40 field study photographic weekend workshops for up to 137 students to Death Valley, the Eastern Sierras, Big Sur, Carmel, Joshua Tree National Park, the Salton Sea, Anza Borrego and Yosemite National Park, involving four to six faculty members to help.

In 1998, he designed the department’s first computer lab, and since 1999 he assisted in bringing in approximately $750,000 in grant money.

He has taught many courses from beginning to advanced, including studio lighting, film printing, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom, time lapse, business photography and many more.

This Ford Lowcock photo is an example of a final product for an Advanced Digital Printing class, which he will teach in the fall.

An ongoing, personal photographic project of his is on the environmentally endangered Coho salmon of the Klamath River in Northern California and Southern Oregon, where he has documented the many sides of the factors resulting in the decline of the salmon.

“I have photographed and told the story of Ron Reed, Cultural Biologist for the Karuk Tribe, Native Americans, who have lived in the mid-Klamath basin for thousands of years,” he said. “I photographed and told the stories of steep ground logging and privately owned lands with managed logging, and cattle ranchers who own land but also have cattle grazing on public land, as well as environmentalists in the area.”

In “Smartphone Photography” which will include a field trip to a location in Los Angeles, students will learn how to capture the mood and feel of the city using smartphone cameras. The instructors will teach students to develop a pair of discerning eyes and find out what to look for and how to take artistic photographs that are more than just snapshots, Lowcock said.

Another Ford Lowcock Smartphone image that was modified.

In “Adobe Photoshop for Photography – MAC” students will learn how to express their imaginations and create their own dream worlds with Adobe Photoshop.  They will explore digital imaging and the basic principles of photographic control and manipulation, as well as finding out how to turn ordinary photographs into works of art.

In the “Advanced Digital Photographic Printing Workshop – MAC,”  which is limited to a maximum of eight students, Lowcock will demonstrate how to bring printmaking to a higher level. He said students will “have to have a strong desire to make personal expressive photographic prints.”

“Ford’s workshop was an eye opener for me,” said student Sara Peterson. “I have a new understanding of how to create a print that begins with processing of the RAW image. The small group size gave us the ability to deconstruct our methods and rebuild where needed. I came away with a stronger workflow, a better understanding of color, and confidence in my technique.”

Ford Lowcock

Aside from teaching, Lowcock will be busy in other arenas as well. He plans to assist scientific companies and university academic departments, including archaeology, with projects where photography can be a useful tool for various projects.

“Through association with the archaeology department at SMC I came to realize that using mobile devices such as the camera in our smart phones could be a very important tool in field archaeology research and possibly in other sciences,” he said. “I developed applied field applications that utilize small, versatile lighting sources, a list of cell phone apps that could be used to maximize image quality for fine detail, color clarity and remove distortion, and additional supplemental equipment such as add-on camera phone lenses.”

Lowcock is looking forward to his next chapter at SMC Community Ed. “It’s a great place,” he said, “for instructors to try things out outside the academic curriculum.”

Ford Lowcock will teach with Ed Mangus “Smartphone Photography” July 7 and 14. His fall classes will be “Adobe Photoshop for Photography – MAC” (Sept. 8-Oct. 6), and “Advanced Digital Photographic Printing Workshop – MAC” (Oct. 27-Nov. 3).

By Michelle King, Director of Career & Contract Education

I’m pleased to announce that starting this fall, SMC Community Ed will be offering courses designed to meet the needs of beginners seeking to launch a career in the field of IT and courses for more seasoned professionals that are seeking to add a nationally recognized certification.

The courses are being offered through a new – and unique – partnership with SimpliLearn (formerly Market Motive) that allows us to offer specially priced bundled courses. All the courses are online and self-paced.

Among the bundle of courses to be offered is Project Management Specialist, which will include classes in PMP, Microsoft Project 2013 and Agile Scrum Master. This bundle of courses is designed for those with five years of related experience.

Also to be offered will be Big Data Specialist, which will include classes in Big Data Hadoop & Spark Developer and Data Science with Python. It is appropriate for a learner with fluency in Core Java, and some amount of familiarity with Python and Scala but not necessarily fluency.

The beginner courses are offered through California’s Eligible Training Provider List. Please contact us at or (310) 434-3400 for more information.



Eleanor Schrader is a design, architecture and art historian and expert who has a large and loyal following for her lectures, classes & worldwide tours. And this summer her illustrated design lecture series will continue at SMC Community Ed with a topic that is somewhat new to her audiences: “Treasures of Asian Decorative Arts.” This is scheduled for July 14.

Typically, she lectures and leads tours on European and American design, but the twist on this lecture is that she wants to show cross-cultural influences.

“I’m particularly interested in highlighting Asian influences on Western culture,” Schrader says. “In the 1660s, Chinese emissaries came to Louis XIV’s court, and the French fell in love with Asian art and design. They’d never seen anything like it.”

Even after World War II, she said, the West has been fascinated with Asian design and art. For example, she said, Western culture tended to flesh out the female body, but Asians depicted the human figure in a flat way. Westerners were also intrigued by Asians’ use of lacquer.

Eleanor will explore the rich aesthetics of Asian design within the cultural histories in which they were created. She says her audience will find out about the decorative arts of China, Japan, India, and Korea, and the richness and variety of materials and techniques used by the artists and craftspeople.

Schrader has been giving design lectures at SMC Community Ed for two years, and for five years before that at SMC.

She is an award-winning educator, lecturer, writer, and historical design consultant. She lectures worldwide on the history of furniture, decorative arts, architecture, and interiors and leads art and architecture tours throughout the world.

She has been named a Distinguished Instructor at UCLA Extension, where she teaches history of architecture, interior design, furniture, and decorative arts. She is also Professor Emeritus of Art and Architectural History at SMC.

Her design tours, most recently through, have gone to such destinations as the Stahl House, Guasti Villa, and the Fenyes Mansion in Pasadena.

Eleanor Schrader with tour group at the Queen Mary in Long Beach

She has done graduate work in fine and decorative arts at Sotheby’s Institute in London and New York and has served as a Design Review Commissioner for the City of Beverly Hills. She hosted a radio show on Voice America Internet radio called “Dishing the Dirt on Design.” She has served on the Board of Directors of the Beverly Hills Historical Society, Beverly Hills Heritage, the Malibu Adamson House Foundation, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House Foundation, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the John Lautner Foundation.

Eleanor Schrader will present the lecture “Treasures of Asian Decorative Arts” on July 14.

By Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education

We’re excited to announce the three finalists for our Fourth Annual Photo Contest — and YOU get the opportunity to choose the winner by voting at this link to your ballot. Voting continues until noon Tuesday, June 5, with the winner and runners-up announced shortly thereafter.

David Clancy’s “Rude Boy Rose”

Once again we are so pleased to have received 150 submissions this year, and we thank all 34 participants for sharing with us their best visions in their worlds. As we launch into public voting for the winning photo, we ask our faithful readers to make this a blowout year for us in participating in the voting process and let us know what you would like to see on the cover for our Fall 2018 catalog.

Catalina Munoz Mejia’s “Plateau Point”

Aside from from being showcased as the cover photo, the winning image will be featured on social media and our marketing and public relations materials.

Hai Vu’s “Mural Overlooking People in Crosswalk”

Voting on the submissions went through two panels of judges to reach the Final 3. And because of both the quantity and quality of these wonderful photos, it was a very difficult task. But we believe that our community’s participation in selecting the winner and two runners-up is the most important element of the Photo Contest and, as always, the support and participation of our public has been the greatest motivation for our program. Thank you so much and please show your love for us by going to this link and vote!

For questions on the voting process, please do not hesitate to contact us at

As a native of Santa Monica, French instructor Harriette McCauley attended schools in the Santa Monica Unified School District. After receiving an Associate of Arts degree from Santa Monica College, Harriette decided to join the U.S. Marine Corps. After leaving the Marine Corps, she attended California State University, Northridge, soon thereafter. Because of her outstanding grades, she qualified for the Dean’s List, in the Junior Year Abroad program and was chosen to attend college in Aix-en-Provence, France.

After returning home, Harriette completed her B.A. and M.A. in French/Spanish, as well as continuing her courses in Theatre Arts and the Credential Program for Secondary Education. She was offered a position at the Consulate of France, Los Angeles, honing her abilities to practice speaking, interpreting and translating French. Since then, she has been developing and teaching French classes. She teaches “Beginning Conversational French for Travelers,” Level I and Level II at SMC Community Ed.

What do you like about teaching at Community Ed?

The programs Community Ed offers, and the support I receive from Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator of Community & Contract Education, and all of the staff, and the freedom I am allowed to develop and teach the classes – they have been marvelous.  And, I met Director of Career & Contract Education Michelle King and see the work she does to support the staff. I salute what they do. Just marvelous.  I see this particular class (“Beginning French for Travelers”) as being “organic.” It has structure but it unfolds according to the makeup of the attendees. Everyone is not going to Paris only, if at all. They may be visiting France or countries where French is spoken, so we focus on those things. These classes are like a “spark. There is a painting of God and Adam (“The Creation of Adam”) on the Sistine Chapel ceiling in Italy that people are familiar with. As God reaches out to Adam, their hands/fingers don’t touch, but you get the sense that there is a “spark” of life between them that flows from one to the other, where the “life” of something begins. I hope my class is like that for the people who attend: a “spark.” Because each class is only for six weeks generally, I want it to “spark” the interest of those who attend to continue on in other classes where they can meet and greet other students, or immerse themselves in another language or pursue other possibilities.

What kinds of students do you have?

All kinds, all ages, all ethnicities. At SMC Community Ed, the age range has been 17 to 70’s-plus. They are either planning a trip, usually very soon after the class or they are thinking about planning a trip in the near future or they are exploring the possibility of a trip, or they are just interested in the language.

Briefly describe your year abroad studying at university in Aix? What was the name of the school/university? What was the experience like?

The California State Universities has a program they are/were involved with in Aix at L’Institut pour les Étrangers. It is a school for foreign students. Other colleges from the U.S. and other places also send their students there. There was also the Faculté des Lettres, Aix-Marseilles, which are equal to the UC campuses here. Brave students attended some of those classes and I took two classes there. I didn’t speak much, but listened a lot and learned a great deal. I was a theatre/film major here at CSUN and only picked up language as a major when I returned. So my focus was on theatre and film. We had to take the regular grammar, history, etc. classes in French, but were encouraged to take higher ed classes at the university.  My two were “Cineaste Jean Cocteau” and “Cinematic Film Phenomenon.”

Do you go to France often?

Every other year at least. I would like to make it a yearly event if I can. I go to immerse myself in the language and pick up new and current things that are happening. It changes so quickly. I usually stay with friends just outside of Paris.

What do you like about the French language?

The “drama.” It is a dramatic language (and I was a theatre/drama student in college, as well as a member of a theatre company in Hollywood). All of the nuances, the rhythms, the sounds, the linking of sounds, the structure – it is highly structured. French is “vocal gymnastics.” In my opinion, it is a “whole body experience.”

What is your idea of a perfect day?

Waking up in a “portion” of my right mind (smile).  That gives me the opportunity to make some wise choices for the day.

What is one of the best compliments you ever received?

There are so many. In recent times, two of the students in my French class at another community college went on a long trip in France. They drove and visited a lot of places, some not so much touristy. When they returned, they sent me the most marvelous compliment. They told me they were able to navigate their way through their trip with few or no problems. Without using their names, here is the compliment they sent to me:

“We are soooo happy we took your “French for Travelers” class! We understood much of what we heard and were able to use simple phrases without inducing laughter or blank looks. The trip was great – we drove about 6,000 kilometers and enjoyed the different regions with their food specialties and architecture. The people were wonderful and appreciated our attempts to speak French. Thank you!”

But there are so many like this I’ve received in the past – this was the recent one.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Rappel off the side of a mountain.

Is there any thing you would like to add?

About my year in Aix: I learned how much French I did NOT know or speak when we arrived in Nice on our way to Aix. It freaked me out! I didn’t speak much for about a month – I just nodded or shook my head, whichever was appropriate at the time, especially in the dorms. I found that when we as American students spoke in French just among us, we reinforced a lot of mistakes; we needed to have French students/people to be in the mix if we really wanted to learn. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to a French family who lived in a village about 35 minutes outside of Aix. Their youngest daughter, age 13, was taking an English class and needed tutoring. No one in that family spoke English, no one (except for the eldest daughter who spoke a little British English – there is a difference; the French will tell you.). It was the best thing that ever happened for me. They actually adopted me as one of their own. I spent weekends with them, went on vacation with them, and really learned to speak the language. When/As I began to notice that I was dreaming in French at times, I realized that I had arrived. The mom in the family even complimented me on that fact just before I was to leave and come back home.

And, as a result of my time abroad, I decided to complete my studies in French, earning a B.A. and M.A. in French with a minor in Spanish. I’m still working on a degree in Theatre (it can take forever). I also was able to work at the French Consulate in Los Angeles soon after my graduation. I was in charge of visas for non-French citizens. That was a plus. It was like being back in France. This helped/inspired me in developing the “French for Travelers” class that I would later teach.

Harriette McCauley will teach Beginning Conversational French for Travelers – Level 2 beginning April 21.