Spanish professor Renée Andrade lectures during one of her classes. Jose De Castro / MOUNTAINEER
After 28 years at Mt. SAC, beloved Spanish professor Dr. Renée Andrade says adios
as she plans to retire at the end of the spring semester.
Andrade said she is blessed to have worked at Mt. SAC and for living a beautiful life. Attending school for her doctorate while pregnant and having a part-time job was not easy. “I did it the hard way,” Andrade said.
She attended school during the day and worked until 2 a.m. Andrade said she was lucky enough to have been able to receive her doctorate degree and immediately get a job in her profession at the University of California, Irvine, all while raising two young children.
Before beginning her career at Mt. SAC, Andrade taught at UCI and USC. Andrade said she believes that she is a “product of the community college,” and compared Mt. SAC and university students. “I had all kinds of students at UCI, but you don’t see that kind of diversity [at the universities]. We have students that come from all paths of life and background, so we have such diversity that it really enriches your life,” Andrade said.
“I have had students that were 78 and students that were 14 years old, and students so bright that one even finished Mt. SAC in one year, and I have had students with all kinds of disabilities, so I appreciate [diversity] a lot.”
Her office is filled with pictures of her family, colleagues, and former students. Andrade’s former students remembered her as being a helpful and positive person.
“I have so many students at Mt. SAC that were my students and now they are my colleagues; it’s beautiful,” she said.
Andrade’s colleague and former student, Spanish Professor Lorena Molina, was in her Spanish for Spanish Speakers class in 1995. “She was so energetic, her energy is contagious. Since then until now she hasn’t changed,” she said.
All of her students love her and like her, and she has a lot of recognitions and awards here in the college, the department is very lucky to have her,” Molina said.
Molina is both happy and sad for Andrade.
“I feel happy for her because she is still young and can enjoy her life and her family, but at the same time sad because a very good teacher is going to leave. She is the best of the best.”
Andrade remembered a time in her life when she lost her mother. She had a difficult time visiting her mother’s grave.
A former student had worked at the graveyard. Soon after, Andrade noticed that every time she visited her mother’s grave there would be fresh flowers. She learned that her former student would always make sure there were fresh flowers on her grave.
“It was a bond for life; I had made an impression on him,” Andrade said.
Andrade said that teaching is not about the money but more about the rewards. “I always look forward to being in the classroom. It is very energizing to be in the classroom,” Andrade said.
While Andrade said it is hard to leave the classroom, she is looking forward to spending more quality time with her children, three grandchildren, and her husband. She also wants to give back to the community.
Her goal is to teach English to Hispanic parents “so that they can communicate with their children’s teachers.” Andrade also said she is very close to her church. “I’ve been helping the homebound, the elderly,” Andrade said.
She added that it is time to retire because she has seen two generations of students and does not want to stay to see the third. Andrade leaves her students with some words of wisdom.
“Even though times are hard, life is a cycle, even though the news are gloomy and dark, there is the cycle of life and things can only improve and as long as you improve your education. It is something that nobody can take away from you and you’re going to not give up because of the cancelling of classes. There are things in life like money and fame, and any material thing that comes and goes, but nobody can take education away from you, and it will always open doors for you, and also make you a better person. Be positive and doors will open.”
- Kathryn Banks