September 2016

September 2016


September 2016 Newsletter


Inspiration in the Classroom

Richard Randall, Class of 1979

I was born in Louisville, Kentucky to a very poor family.  My mother was from California but had moved to Kentucky with her mother to escape an abusive family situation. My mother was a young teenager when she married my father. Neither of my parents went to college and only one of my four grandparents attended high school.

My parents spent time living in both California and Kentucky and they eventually married and divorced each other twice. After their second divorce, I went with my father to Kentucky where I finished high school. After high school my mother, who was living in Modesto on Tully Road, persuaded me to come out and live near her. After working for a year at an egg processing plant, I enrolled in the Fall of 1977 at Modesto Junior College.

The education was outstanding. I was able to work for the athletic department as a work study student. The coaches were friendly. Coach Loyd and Coach Hoegh stand out as being particularly supportive and lending sound advice. There were several outstanding professors that inspired me to become a community college professor. A few that come to mind quickly are my former debate and speech coaches Steve Collins and Jim Johnson, my Astronomy Professor William Luebke, Political Science Professor Randy Siefkin, and History/Geography Professor Ted Hamilton. These outstanding teachers became a model that I wanted to aspire to copy in my career.  I graduated in 1979 with a 4.0 grade point average and transferred to Cal State Stanislaus where I received a B.A. in Political Science and my M.A. and C.Phil from U.C. Davis.

While working on my Ph.D at Davis I began teaching part-time at American River College, Delta College and returned to Modesto Junior College as an adjunct professor.  In 1998 I began working full-time as a political science professor at Merced College.  In my tenure I have had the honor of being voted Professor of the Year by our students nine times. I was also an assistant softball coach at the college for several years. Currently, I am also a part-time professor at Cal State Stanislaus in the Politics and Public Administration department.

I have been married since 1984 and have two adult children who were both high school and college competitive swimmers.

I want to thank Modesto Junior College for having such a profound impact on my life.  As someone who has taught at the community college level I have personally witnessed the transformation of so many lives.  We all have a story, thank you MJC for being such an important part of mine.


A Passion Born at MJC

By Armando Elenes, Class of 1997

I was born in Sinaloa, Mexico.  When I was eight years old, I was brought by my parents to the United States in 1980.  Beginning at the age of 15 I worked in nurseries, dairies and picked peaches and apricots to help my family during the summer months.  I attended Hilmar High School and graduated in 1990.  I then volunteered to join the military and spent 4 years in the U.S. Air Force.  After leaving the military, I spent two years at Modesto Junior College and earned my Associate in Arts Degree.  While at junior college I got involved with the United Farm Workers’ (UFW) strawberry campaign and organized dozens of volunteers to leaflet stores and orchestrated other actions in the Modesto area.

The consistent support of MJC teachers in all of my classes, but especially our MEChA Club advisors, made a big difference in my life.

After graduating in 1997, I was asked to take an internship at the UFW office in Los Angeles as a community organizer.  Less than two years later I transferred to the organizing department in Delano, CA where I continue to focus on organizing farm workers.  During my time at the UFW, I have run field operations for political campaigns, run non-ALRB elections and also steered numerous organizing campaigns.  I now serve as the Organizing Director for the External Organizing Department and Internal Organizing Department for the UFW and am a part of the Union Executive Board as a National Vice President.


BRAVO! Modesto JC – A Personal View…

By Shirley Irving

Throughout the nearly half-century I’ve lived in Modesto there has been a continual bright light, even a beacon, to beckon me to enjoy many worlds.  In the first months after moving our family to Modesto, however, my life seemed alienated and insular, as though perennially clouded in tule fog, all seemed colorless, lacking the stimulation I experienced in the Bay Area.

And then TECHNICOLOR! . . . the Bee announced that the MJC Lecture Series would be hosting the poet, John Ciardi, as a Thursday afternoon speaker.  I arranged for a baby sitter, and I set foot for the first time on that park-like East Campus of Modesto Junior College.  When I exited the auditorium after the event, and walked out into the campus, it was as though I was taking the first real breath of fresh air since I’d come to town.

The stimulation lasted long enough for me to enroll in evening class that Fall.  I decided to retake my Freshman English to give me a jumpstart, and as a result I met a kindred spirit, the dynamic Bob Mognis.  He was in his first year teaching job at MJC, expecting very little from the evening 1A class, but he inspired me to do my best and encouraged me to submit an essay in a contest; I won the prize and my essay was published.  Jumpstart it was indeed!

From there, I took more of Bob’s classes; he was such fun and full of good teaching techniques.  I sampled other evening offerings regularly for several years thereafter and sang in Masterworks. The college pulled me like a magnet, and I responded with resultant excitement.  Eventually, when the youngest was in school, I began back to school in earnest, taking twelve units each semester, even launching on a second Major after finishing the first.  I gloried in worlds of Music, Business, Art, Interior Design, Humanities, more English — all exciting, all adding to my knowledge, to my skill, and to my future life experience.  I even joined the Alpha Gamma Sigma Honor Society.  I graduated with AA degrees in both business and art.

All through the Modesto years, the MJC Auditorium has been a fertile venue of rich experience in music and drama.  Today, my daughter is a principal in the Community Orchestra, my son was a principal with an earlier version of the Modesto Symphony, and my granddaughter has starred in Opera on that same stage.  What opportunities with which we have been blessed through MJC!

I realize this is a very personal statement, but I believe it is a sample of what MJC is to countless other Modesto families and individuals.  Like the taproot that nourishes and grounds the tree, this institution of learning empowers Modestans of all walks of life.

Today, the Modesto Institute of Continued Learning (MICL), on West Campus, is my activity, continuing to open doors to other worlds, allowing me to meet new people and enjoy those acquaintances with whom I’ve been blessed.  MICL exists because of MJC; it will prevail because of MJC.

My vote for the best thing in Modesto is Modesto Junior College.  It has made all the difference to my almost half-century in this town.


Click Here to tell us YOUR MJC Story!

Dedication To A Dream

By Darla Zuroff, Class of 1988

While growing up I dreamed of becoming a nurse caring for babies. I entered MJC straight out of high school. I graduated in December of 1988 with my Associate of Science Degree in Nursing and got my dream job as a pediatric nurse. I returned to MJC 20 years later and took a few transfer courses in order to enroll at CSU Stanislaus where I achieved my Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing in 2005.

I was the first person in my family to earn both AS and BS degrees. I have had an awesome career in nursing thanks to MJC. If it weren’t for this low cost community based program, I don’t think I ever would have become a nurse.  Over my 28-year nursing career, I have continued to love taking care of babies, first in Pediatrics, and then on the Mother Baby unit.  Now I am about to start a new adventure caring for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  Thanks MJC!



Our alumni have great life stories.  Many of those stories have been shaped by this great college over the past 95 years.  As I walked around campus on the first day of the fall semester I was struck by the diversity of our student body and wondering about the life story of each of the young people walking by.  What will they study?  Where will they go from here?  How will their lives be shaped by education?

More than 80% of our students are eligible for some form of financial aid. They are in great need of scholarship support as well.  That’s why I’m pleased to announce that the MJC Scholarship Office has joined us here at the MJC Foundation.  Melissa Clark, our Scholarship Coordinator, is doing great work.  Just last school year, our Foundation, Scholarship Office and many off-campus partners were able to distribute $768,350 to MJC students to fund books, tuition, supplies and other educational needs!

The Foundation and Scholarship assets of MJC now stand at more than $13 Million.  These funds are invested wisely and are working toward the benefit of our students and campus programs.  Our goal is to see these resources blossom to help even more students.  We appreciate the support of our alumni and friends who make this possible.  Please click DONATE ONLINE below to give to Modesto Junior College.  MJC students appreciate your support!


If you have a good story to tell about a great teacher or other experiences here at MJC, please contact me. I love a good story.

George Boodrookas, Ed.D.

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