BiographyResume, June 2020
My undergraduate degree is actually in mathematics. But when I started, I had no idea that is what I would receive for a degree. Like many freshmen, I really did not know what degree I should seek. For my first two years, I was an Undecided Major. The program was designed with the idea that new students would concentrate on their general education requirements and along the way find something that they wanted to major in. I turned the program on its head; I took the major courses in math, computer science, music, drama literature, and theater -- ignoring my general education requirements. At the end of my second year, I saw that, if I was lucky and played my cards right, I could get both a math degree with a computer science minor and a theater degree by the end of my senior year. Well, it didn't work out that way. I was still about a semester shy of the theater degree but I was able to finish the requirements for the math degree with the computer science minor and I had already landed a job in the industry before I graduated. So I grabbed my degree and ran.
That was 1979. Yes, they had computers back then. But no CDs, DVDs, Internet, iPods, smart phones, or AIDS.
I worked as a computer intern my last two summers in college and I started working as a programmer at a local math company before I graduated. It was much fun but totally useless work. The company did high-level math work for the Navy. Some of what we did was useful but most of it was just sopping up defense funds. I then worked as a programmer for a company in France for four months. It was a blast! I helped convert engineering programs from English to metric and did some computer aided manufacturing on large-scale cutting machines. They thought it would take me about ten months to complete the project. I finished in four months. (If I didn't have such a strong sense of ethics and fair play, I would have acted as if I was not finished and just kept goofing off for the last six months. They were paying me well and the food was fabulous!)
After France, I landed in San Diego and worked again as a programmer for a company that built automated warehouses. It was then that I tutored for a couple of mathematics classes part-time for the San Diego Community College. I found I really enjoyed helping students learn.
That next fall, I saw an ad for a Full-time, Temporary Data Processing Instructor at Southwestern Community College for the coming spring semester. The ad said, "Bachelors Degree Required, Masters Degree Preferred." I figured there was no way I was going to get the job since I only had a BA with a couple of years of experience in the industry and very little teaching experience (really just as a tutor). And even if I did get the job, what were they going to do if I screwed up -- fire me? I was only going to be there for one semester!
That was January 1983. Most all of you reading this were not even born yet!
I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had never really taught a formal class, just tutored. I found that I absolutely loved it! I had so much fun. The students knew it was my first time as a full-time instructor. They were very supportive. I screwed up many times but surprised myself and did some things very well. The position became permanent in the fall. I reapplied and got the permanent position in the fall of 1983. I have been teaching at Southwestern ever since.
And I have always loved it! Although much has changed, much has remained the same. We are now called Professors instead of Instructors. Southwestern is much larger. We now have three higher education campuses as well as an aquatic center on San Diego Bay. The Chula Vista campus is much more crowded. The area around Southwestern has grown to the point where someone who had not seen it since 1983 would literally not recognize the area.
I have changed, too. Teaching allows one to pursue other interests. I worked as a contract programmer / computer consultant for many years and had many clients. This helped me keep up-to-date with the industry. Carpal tunnel ended my career as a programmer and teaching computer classes. But one door closes and another opens. I received a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) and now teach business classes. I teach financial planning, investments and securities, business mathematics, business communications, and financial management for small business. I also received my securities license and have a successful side business working as a registered representative (also known as a stockbroker). In early 2006, I received a California insurance agent's license and started working part-time for Farmers Insurance. I only had a few clients and then decided insurance was not my cup of tea. (Check out the chapter 10 presentation of BUS-121.) In 2006, I also started working with a mortgage broker and could offer home loans but I never promoted it and although I had a few leads I never closed a mortgage deal. After the housing bubble burst, I convinced my wife that we should pursue some residential investment properties. She reluctantly agreed and now I feel somewhat competent teaching the basics of real estate investing. Our next project is a commercial property but that seems like a stretch. We shall see!
But my first and foremost career passion will always be teaching. Every day I arrive on campus, I am always thankful for the fact that I get to torture students -- and they pay me to do it!
I absolutely adore cycling; I positively loathe driving. Cycling is fun; driving is stressful. Cycling is healthy; driving is a waste of time. Cycling is cheap; driving is sending our economy to the poor farm, ruining the environment, and helping keep people from exercising. So go get on a bike. Enjoy yourself, get healthy, and save some dough.
Many of the folks at Southwestern associate me with cycling. They mistakenly tell others that I make the commute to and from Southwestern from my home in Ocean Beach every day. This is not true; I used to ride about 2 to 3 times per week. Because of a recurrent knee problem, I was down to only about once per week. But I now have a bicycle with an electric-assist motor which has allowed me to get to work much faster and still get plenty of exercise without much strain on my knees. I am back to commuting to Southwestern 2 or 3 times per week via bicycle.
No, cycling is not as dangerous as many of you believe. Check out the San Diego Bicycle Coalition (www.sdbikecoalition.org) and many of the links you will find there. If you learn to ride as you legally should, you will find that it is a safe and healthy method of transportation. By the way, for the more aggressive, petro-chemically inclined, California Vehicle Code, Section 21200, states that, "Every person riding a bicycle upon a highway has all the rights ... applicable to the driver of a vehicle ..." Yes, that means cyclists have a right to use the roadways and have the responsibility to obey the rules and laws of the road.
Each person is different and each person's body is different. But I can tell you that yoga has been very beneficial to me physically. The cycling helps the legs and the heart; the yoga helps everything else.
If you have read this far, I guess you are really interested. Thank you. I am very flattered. With regard to our immediate family, I am the luckiest guy in the world. My wife and I have been married for 24 years. Anita is intelligent, beautiful, a master at diplomacy and tact, the best mother a son could have, and she can cook, too. Best of all, she puts up with me! My wife teaches social work classes at Cuyamaca College and staff development classes in their Professional Development Academy. She also performs and teaches Alternative Dispute Resolution (also known as Mediation) for adults and teens and gives continuing education seminars and writes articles for the North County Bar Association. She won an award for one of her articles in 2011. (Can you tell I am very proud of her?)
In June 2007, our son, Joseph, graduated from High Tech High in Point Loma and graduated from San Diego State University May of 2012. (Only once did I suggest Southwestern and the idea was quickly rejected. The last thing in the world he wanted was to have every professor on campus saying, "Are you Frank Paiano's son?!" How embarrassing!) He is currently working as a technical writer but also has worked teaching English as a second language. He is a Linux and video game fan. His specialty is Super Smash Brothers on the Nintendo GameCube. He and his friends have entered tournaments at UCSD. However, now he seems much more interested in the online game League of Legions. He is also the best climber and can scale anything -- tree, house, fence, you name it. He has no fear of heights (unlike his father). And he is the best looking guy around (again, unlike his father)! We are very proud of him.
That is us at the top of this page. It is several years old and a bit of a goofy photograph but it always brings a smile to my face. The handsome guy on the right is my son posing for his high school and college graduation photos. Isn't he lucky he does not look like his father!
Why do I start ever class with a joke? Believe it or not, there are some educational reasons. At Southwestern, we are big fans of a program called 4Mat. While it is a silly name, the research behind the program is serious. Without going into any of the details, suffice to say that everyone sees the world differently. This, of course, also pertains to students. Some students do best when the classroom is perceived as a non-threatening environment and the instructor is seen as someone they can trust and like. The jokes "break the ice" so to speak.
The second (and more important ) reason is simply because I love to tell bad jokes -- but you have learned that already, haven't you?
Speaking of education, let us talk about personalities and teaching styles. I am a Baby Boomer. The Baby Boomers were very aggressive students when we were in our college years. We challenged the professors daily. We are still fairly aggressive. And I know that I personally can come across very strongly to some people. Many students have told me so over my career as an instructor at Southwestern. I apologize in advance if I scare or discomfort anyone.
Today's generation, the Digital Generation (also known as the Millenials), is much more sedate. They watch and wait for just the right time before they chime in. They are much less inclined to participate in classroom discussions unless they truly believe they have something material to add. There are some that argue that this reticence to participate is because of the influence of computers and video games and mobile phones and a television in every room in the house. The Digital Generation is used to interacting alone. They are much less inclined to interact in public. Whatever the reason, please consider this my personal invitation to participate to your heart's content in our classes. If you do not want to speak out loud during class, send me an e-mail and I will relate your comment to the class -- anonymously, of course.
Yes, it is true. Our family does not watch television. Well, that is not entirely true. Sometimes, my wife and I will watch "Television for People Who Hate Television." We go the library and check out a PBS Masterpiece Theater or Mystery episode and watch it on one of our laptop computers since we do not own a television. My mother could not believe that is the only thing we will watch. "They are so boring!" she would exclaim. She was always telling me how much we are missing. I agreed with her -- we are missing thousands upon thousands of commercials. "But they are the best part!" she would claim. Right, Mom -- sure they are.
One woman we met at a party got very angry and accused us of abusing our son by not watching television. Hey, our son does not watch any television -- even less than we do! We did not teach him or cajole him to not watch the box. He chose that on his own. Of course, our son does spend quite a bit of time playing video games which I guess is sorta' like television -- but without the commercials.