Meet Breta Hedges, Business Communications Professor

1. What inspired you to become a professor?

Mostly my mom, she taught at Orange Coast College all her life and I loved having her home during the summers so we could travel. Her schedule was always accommodating to my school schedule and I always thought it would be the perfect job if I decided to become a parent myself, which I did, almost 5 years ago. Most of my extended family is highly educated and most of them across the country are teachers or researchers at colleges. My dad also teaches in his field, so I guess I would have to say, teaching is just a large part of who I am; I come from a teaching family! 

2.  What do you love most about teaching?

I love working with students who REALLY want to learn. I have a lot of valuable information that I love to give to students who are interested. To be honest though, what other career can you have where you only go to work two to three days per week and only “work” 32 weeks per year? I do love the free time!  Teaching is great for my family, my students and myself!

3. What was your goal in life as a teenager?

I always wanted to teach from the time I was 5 years old, but I was shy and terrified of public speaking, so I didn’t think it would ever be feasible. It wasn’t until I turned 30, went back and got my MBA and started doing more teaching as part of my job, that I started applying to schools to be a professor. I never knew what I wanted to teach; I was interested in many topics, but my degrees were in psychology and business. I never thought I would teach business writing, and I never knew I could enjoy it so much.  Business Writing is, in my opinion, one of the most useful classes students can take to help in their business careers, and I love being a part of that.

4.  What is the hardest thing about being a professor?

Watching students that truly try very hard, but are still unable to do the work to a standard acceptable to pass the class. Some students will spend every week with me in my office hours and improve so much over the course of the semester, but their writing is still not where it needs to be when it comes down to passing the class. It is very hard to give a non-passing grade to a student who tries so hard, it has brought tears to my eyes on many occasions.

5.  What interests and hobbies do you have outside of school?

My family and I spend most of our weekends camping. We have an RV and will camp most anywhere; we love to be outside, at the beach, at the lake, riding bikes, playing family games. My life outside of school is all about my family; we do everything together and make fun for ourselves wherever we go!  Most of our life is about travel though.

6. Do you think students should treat their professors like friends? Or is it necessary to maintain a disciplined environment to create a good classroom environment?

This is a tough question that each individual professor has to make their own decision on. I personally like to treat my students fairly, honestly, and maintain what I consider to be a fun learning environment.  In order to have an open and fun classroom environment where students can approach a professor, and enjoy learning, I think you have to be open to a “friendship” of sorts. I tend to talk freely about my life if students ask me, but don’t readily volunteer too much about my personal life. I may like the idea of being “friends” with students, but I don’t join social networks with my students or “hang out” with them on the weekends.  I do feel like I am “friends” with many of my students by the end of the semester, and I always know I will miss them the following semester, but I rarely keep contact with students once the class is over.

~Caroline Liang