De Anza professor receives excellence award

De Anza professor receives excellence award

Alena Naiden, Staff Writer

Jacquelyn Reza lost her home at age 7. Her mother, a single parent, worked hard in a factory to support her family. Reza was the first child in her family to attend college.

“I do feel that I’m a success story… For a girl from the projects in San Francisco, I’ve done OK,” Reza said.

Reza, De Anza College’s director of professional and organizational development, has taught students and faculty at De Anza for 30 years.

She recently received a John and Suanne Rouche Excellence Award, which celebrates outstanding community college faculty and staff.

“I never thought of myself that much as a teacher, but I grew into it, and it set me on the journey,” Reza said.

She has established her own philosophy of teaching by adjusting the approach depending on students’ ages, cultures and emotional intelligence. Injustices in the world feed Reza’s eagerness for social changes. She cited recent events in Baltimore as an example.

“I have to hold world peace,” Reza said. “If enough of us held that, may be we can get there.”

As a student, Reza wanted to work with animals at the San Francisco Zoo or become a doctor to develop a cure for malaria. She did not expect that she would become a counselor and teacher.

Reza has earned bachelor’s degrees in zoology and La Raza studies, a master’s degree in counseling and a doctorate in international and multicultural education.

Reza spent two years studying birds in Nigeria, worked as a marriage and family therapist and wrote a book that is translated in 22 languages.

Reza credits her achievements to her “willingness to take risks, to live in ambiguity, to be reflective         and to keep learning.”

She said she is grateful to people who have helped her, showed her kindnesses and saw that she was smart.

Reza said she plans to retire soon and she dreams of not waking up at 5:30 a.m. every morning. “So when I retire, I’ll get up at 7,” she said.