Enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge and insights about their chosen careers, 26 alumni returned to California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) as lecturers on April 4 and 5 for the university’s 3rd annual Professor for a Day.
Organized by the Office of Alumni Programs, Professor for a Day provides current CSUDH students a glimpse into the variety of fields and careers available to them after they graduate. The students learn from lectures and interactive activities led by the honorary professors who are matched with classes relevant to their fields.
Alumna Lois Lee (’76, M.A., sociology) spoke to a Women’s History class. She is founder and president of the non-profit Children of the Night, which she launched in 1979 after years of sheltering girls in her apartment—more than 250 over three years—while she was still a college student to help them escape the dangers of prostitution.
Lee shared how even before Children of the Night was founded she had developed a no-nonsense and cunning communication style and willingness to help prostitutes—often neglected by the police and the court system—to befriend the right people in law enforcement and the media, and to communicate with pimps, strip club owners, and organized crime leaders to gather information.
“Eighty-four percent of the children are referred to us by their mothers, fathers and family members. What typically happens is kids get caught on the streets, or with their pimp, and end up in dependency court,” said Lee. “The state was so anxious to take away their parenting rights. After a while, cops started whispering to the parents ‘Say you’re going to go to Children of the Night,’ which they would. The judge has to accept that.”
Since its founding, Children of the Night has rescued more than 10,000 children from prostitution—more children than all of the other sex trafficking organizations in the U.S. combined—and Lee has raised more than $40 million in private donations to support her programs.
Lee has received many awards for her humanitarian work, including the prestigious President’s Volunteer Action Award, presented to her by President Ronald Reagan in 1984. She received the 1994 National Caring Award, and her portrait hangs in the Frederick Douglass Museum and Hall of Fame for Caring Americans in Washington, D.C.
Joe Herrera (’99, B.A., labor studies), corporate vice president of human resources at AEG, spoke with students in a Labor and Industrial Relations class. He worked as a UPS driver when he first began attending classes at Los Angeles Harbor College to become a high school history teacher, and remained with the company after graduating five years later with his bachelor’s degree in labor studies from CSUDH.
Herrera served as a successful strike captain during a UPS teamsters strike in 1996, which gave him a taste of management work. Since UPS was paying for his college education, he was asked to go into management and become a supervisor in the Labor Relations Department, dealing with such issues as grievances and arbitration hearings.
After his son wrote in a Father’s Day card, “I hate UPS because you’re never home,” he left the long hours at UPS for FedEx, before joining AEG as employee relations manager in 2005. He was promoted to director of human relations for AEG’s STAPLES Center/L.A. Live facilities, then senior director and eventually vice president of human resources in 2014.
“Management rights and union rights, they are in every contract you’ll ever see,” said Herrera to the students who had already been working in two groups on a class project involving union negotiations.
“Who is on the union side, raise your hands? All the cards are stacked against you. That’s the way it works. Who is on the management side, raise your hands?” he asked the students again. “You have an obligation to treat your employees fairly and right. So keep that in mind because there’s an old saying: ‘No company has ever gotten a union it didn’t deserve.’”
Katie Stahl (’11, B.A., anthropology), a Ph.D. student in critical dance studies and teaching assistant at University of California, Riverside, taught the class Proseminar in Anthropology, which was developed for juniors to take during their spring semester to help them explore what they may do after graduating from college.
Stahl formed the desks in a circle in class to create an inclusive and open atmosphere. She provided them advice and touched on such topics as exploring “5 to 80 years” in their future, she shared her personal experiences and insights regarding how to overcome “roadblocks” to success, and the importance of thinking about the type of work that “truly gives them joy.”
“I was dead set on doing archaeology, but then when I was in the pit, dirty and looking around and not finding much, I decided that that wasn’t something that I wanted to do,” said Stahl. ”If you’re pointing your college and professional career in one direction, you’ll only know if it’s going to be a fit for you if you don’t get out there and experience it for yourself.”
One of the more personal roadblocks Stahl addressed was “imposter syndrome,” which is marked by individuals’ inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent and often unwarranted fear of being exposed as a “fraud” in their chosen professions. Stahl mentioned that one of the best “antidotes” for imposter syndrome is to have a very strong support system outside of work because “risk” is a major component to having a successful career, and that imposter syndrome can hold one back from taking a risk.
“If there isn’t something that is at risk then it’s probably not going to be something that you will enjoy very much. Anything that you’re going to pursue, especially if it’s research, will have very big stakes involved,” said Stahl. “Imposter syndrome attacks anyone and everyone, but there are definitely concrete ways to go about it. So don’t worry too much about it and just take the leaps needed to move forward.”
Professors for a Day
- Eric Almanza (’04, secondary teaching credential), fine arts teacher, West Adams Preparatory High School
- Janet Andrade (‘03/’0, B.S./M.A, public administration/education), Project Lead the Way instructor, Bud Carson Middle School
- Jon Archer (’13, B.S., business administration), business analyst, Total Terminals International, LLC
- Cheryl Browne (’82, B.S., clinical science), Internal Medicine Physician, Kaiser Permanente
- Felicitio Cajayon (’05, MPA, public administration), vice chancellor of economic and workforce development, Los Angeles Community College District
- Mike Davis (M.A., behavioral science), commissioner, Los Angeles Public Works
- Mario Flores (’93, B.A., communications), co-founder/managing director, Sportivo
- Joseph Herrera (’99, B.A., labor studies), corporate vice president of human resources, AEG
- Gene Hubbard (’72, B.A. physics/’08, M.S., health science), orthopedic surgeon, private practice
- Carmelita Jeter (’06, B.A., physical education), olympian
- Chiraz Kelly, (’05, B.S., business administration) CEO, City National Security Services
- Lois Lee (’07, M.A., sociology), president and founder, Children of the Night
- Eric Myles (’87, B.A., art), program manager, Exceptional Children’s Foundation
- Jose Omar Agredano (’04, B.A., human services), social worker, Dept. of Children and Family Services
- Todd Rogers (‘84, B.A., history/’93, M.A., sociology), assistant sheriff, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
- Linda Rose (’91, B.A., interdisciplinary studies/’93, M.A., English) president, Los Angeles South West College
- Tedd Ross (’05, MBA, business administration), General Manager and CIO, City of Los Angeles Information Technology Agency
- Victor Ruiz (’05, B.S., business administration), studio finance manager, Sony Pictures Entertainment
- Emilio Salas (’09, B.S., public administration), deputy executive director, Housing Authority of the County of Los Angeles
- Kathy Shimizu (’07, M.A., NCRP), court and community mediator, Orange County Human Relations Commission
- Katie Stahl, (’11, B.A., anthropology), critical dance, UC Riverside
- Cindy Sutherland (’07, M.A., NCRP), vice president of career development, New Horizons Computer Learning Centers of Southern California
- Kathy Tibone (’75, M.A., behavioral science), retired
- Jan Vogel (’74, M.A., education), CEO and executive director, South Bay Workforce
- Rick Warinski (’03, M.A., behavioral science, negotiation and conflict management), former city manager, City of Buena Park
- Raphael Zuniga (’10, B.S., public administration), Board of Equalization