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Coast To Coast

Coast To Coast

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Jennifer Peters

Jennifer Peters

Orange Coast College business and communications instructor, Jennifer Peters, has been named the college’s Part-Time Faculty Member of the Year for 2006-07 by a vote of the faculty and staff.

OCC’s Staff Development Office and Academic Senate sponsor the Part-Time Faculty Member of the Year Award.

Peters, 44, a Santa Ana resident, has been teaching at OCC since 1998. Her roots go further back than that, however. Her first assignment was to teach a mass communications class that had previously been taught by her stepfather, Tom Murphine. Murphine died of cancer in November of 1997.

“Bob Dees, who is now the college’s president, was dean of the Literature and Languages Division at the time,” Peters recalls. “He hired me to take over Tom’s class for the spring semester.”

Peters had never taught before. She’d owned her own public relations agency with her mother – Joan Murphine – for a number of years.

“I worked at the PR agency during the days and taught my OCC class at night,” Peters says. “I had no intention of becoming a teacher, and I told Bob Dees during my interview that I would teach Tom’s class until he found someone else.”

But something happened that she hadn’t anticipated.

“Teaching was a bit intimidating at first, but I felt like Tom was sitting on my shoulder and guiding me all along the way. I soon began to feel comfortable, and I fell in love with the whole process. I developed a passion for teaching and, before the semester was out, I realized that teaching would be my next career.”

A former newspaper editor, Peters’ stepfather taught at OCC for a dozen years after retiring from the newsroom. Murphine was advisor to the student newspaper, and taught news writing and communications classes. He was one of the most popular professors on campus.

“I was deeply motivated to continue doing what he loved doing and cared so much about,” Peters said. “He was the kind of person who lived his life with integrity. He cared for others, particularly his students. I’m trying to follow in those footsteps…though that’s not easy. He set a very high standard.

“Tom loved teaching and he loved Orange Coast College. Though he wasn’t my birth father, we were very close and very much alike. He passed on to me an appreciation for this school. This was his home, and it’s becoming my home as well.”

Raised in Huntington Beach, Peters graduated from Edison High School. She earned a B.A. degree in communications, with a minor in marketing, from California State University at Fullerton. She completed an M.B.A. at National University.

After college she worked in hotel management, then began the PR agency with her mother, Joan Murphine, who’d been a highly successful Orange County public relations professional for three decades.

“We had our agency – McEfee, Murphine and Peters – for 10 years and it was lots of fun. We specialized in tour and travel industry PR, and in governmental relations. We closed our doors in 2003, and that’s when I decided to actively pursue teaching on a full-time basis.”

Peters says her goal is to someday become a full-time faculty member at OCC. She’s teaching three courses on the campus this fall: one mass communications class and two business writing sections. She’ll take a temporary full-time teaching post at the college next spring, replacing a professor on sabbatical leave.

“I’ll stay at Coast until they ask me to leave,” she says with a laugh. “My dream is to one day be a member of the full-time faculty. There’s no place I’d rather be. I wanna be here!

“There’s such a joy associated with teaching. I love the tremendous energy that comes from interacting with students, and I appreciate the responsibility and satisfaction associated with being a mentor. Teaching stimulates me, and keeps my mind going.”

Peters says she takes the same approach to teaching that she took to public relations work.

“I treat each student as a client. They have needs and wants. I try to learn the best ways to approach students, to communicate to them and to interact with them, just as I would with a client, with the news media or with the public. Each student – like each client – is unique. I also bring enthusiasm to the classroom just as I did to the boardroom.”

Peters was thrilled when she was told that she’d been voted the college’s Part-Time Faculty Member of the Year. She was nominated by a Nicholas Broder, a former student in her mass communications class.

“I was ecstatic, overwhelmed, and very flattered. There are so many great part-time instructors here at Coast, and they’re such a valuable asset to the campus community. I feel proud to represent them with this award.”

An aspiring novelist, Peters finished her first book just weeks ago.

“Now I hope to sell it,” she says. “My niche is romantic suspense. Writing is my hobby, and I hope to be able to write more in the future.”

The OCC instructor will be recognized on Wednesday, March 21, 2007, at 3 p.m. during a special ceremony in OCC’s Student Center Lounge. She’ll be honored alongside OCC’s Full-Time Faculty Member of the Year, and Staff Member of the Year.

Peters lives in Santa Ana with her husband, Jon, purchasing manager for CSI Electric. She’s an avid reader, and loves everything that has to do with the beach.

Other nominees for OCC’s 2006-07 Part-Time Faculty Member of the Year Award included: Aristi Contos of OCC’s Literature and Languages Division; Denis Jana of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division; Maya Kelley of the Counseling Services Division; Aleksandra Khizhnyak of the Mathematics and Sciences Division; Tina Reinemann of the Consumer and Health Sciences Division; and Jody Wills of the Literature and Languages Division.


2004-05          Barbara Price, Education Instructor
2005-06 Six Divisional Winners
2006-07 Jennifer Peters, Communications and Business Instructor