Professor takes unique approach to student success

Shweta Saraswat

“Make it sexy!”

As one can tell, this isn’t the average English class.

It is exactly this eccentricity and energy that sets Professor David Gonzalez apart from other professors of English.

“Personally, I’m whacky,” said Gonzalez, who has been teaching at Pierce College for six years.

“The kinder people will say I’m eccentric, but my lecture style is a little strange.”

Gonzalez uses “make it sexy!” as his catchphrase for essay writing, in order to emphasize aspects of writing other than the thesis and its support.

“In the real world, marketability is necessary,” said Gonzalez. “Students should authentically show a true interest in what they’re doing, and that is what ‘sexy’ is.”

“It’s language, ideas, a sense of attraction and complexity, the organization of thought,” he continued. “That’s totally sexy.”

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A graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara and Texas A&M University, Gonzalez spent five years teaching all levels of English at Reseda High School before moving to Pierce in 2002.

As a full-time instructor, his courses this semester are Intermediate Reading and Composition, College Reading and Composition I and College Reading and Composition II.

Gonzalez has been interested in literature since childhood.

“When I was young I loved to read. I felt more at home in worlds other than my own, especially during certain awkward periods of life,” said Gonzalez.

He went on to describe how his dream as a teenager was to be either a rock star or a college English professor.

“He definitely has a lot of energy,” said fellow English professor Maria Bates.

“He’s very to-the-point, but still fun-loving.”

However, Gonzalez doesn’t limit himself to his subject.

“It’s very apparent in all my classes that learning English is secondary to being generally successful,” he said. “I try to help students reach their goals.”

Through teaching, Gonzalez hopes to prepare his students for the difficulties of the real world, and does this primarily by holding his students to a high standard.

“I don’t believe in helping students by giving them an artificial sense of success,” he said.

Students may dislike Gonzalez’s confrontational style when it comes to maintaining standards and reaching set goals, but he is determined.

“Sometimes I sacrifice my desire to be liked out of a desire to teach the students to keep their high standards,” he said.

Despite this apparent lack of easy A’s, 18-year-old pre-med student Denisha Bolanos, who is taking English 28 with Gonzalez, recommends him as a professor.

“He’s very outspoken and he knows what he’s talking about, about both life and English,” Bolanos said.

The professor’s devotion to his students is clear in the hurt he feels when he loses a student.

“You constantly wonder whether you could’ve done more for them,” Gonzalez said, describing why it is sometimes hard for him to focus on each student’s success in his class.

He feels that this attachment to the personal success of students is necessary in all instructors.

“When losing a student doesn’t hurt anymore, you can’t be a good teacher,” he said.

Monique Dobbertin, English professor, admires this view.

“I have heard only good things about him from students,” said Dobbertin, who calls Gonzalez “extremely dedicated” after they spent years in neighboring offices.

Though he may not be a rock star, Gonzalez certainly feels that he is living out his dream and helping those around him in the process.

“In a very small way, I get to contribute to society and to the lives and accomplishments of others in a way I wouldn’t have been able to simply as an individual,” he said.

David Gonzalez, English professor, puts a fun spin on learning by using eccentric vocabulary during his lectures. ()

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