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May 29
2020 Retirees Share Their Thoughts…

close up image of campus with arrow pointing at word retirementMany faculty, staff and managers will be retiring in the coming weeks due to the Coast Community College District’s Early Retirement Incentive. Here they share some parting words and reflect on their time at OCC. 

Chris Amaral -- Faculty, Fashion, hired in 1985

I started teaching at Orange Coast College in 1985. I actually thought I was going to be a high school teacher but my OCC teacher Susan Coleman encouraged me to teach at the College. I told her I was not old enough and I didn’t know what to wear. She said, “we need you, now go enroll in a masters program.” I owe it all to Susan. Together, Susan and I made lots of good things happen for our students as we followed our passion for student success and career development. 

I am so thankful for all the wonderful relationships that I have been able to establish with students and industry. My favorite memories are when students continue their education and obtain solid industry experience  so they can come back to OCC as a guest speaker. The best and brightest also join our fashion faculty. I also LOVE when a former student reconnects with news of a job or creative experience!

I will miss the students and all their hopes and dreams the most. In my retirement, I’ll continue with creative projects like writing a book on career exploration and connections, gardening and playing with my granddaughter Molly. I also plan to be a helper in the College’s fashion department and hopefully join the Foundation Board.

Kevin Ballinger -- Vice President, Instruction, hired in 1985

I was hired at OCC full time in the Fall of 1985, but started part time two years prior. I’m an alum  and my professor at OCC contacted me and asked me to teach part time; then told me to finish my degree because she was planning on retiring and thought I should consider her job.

Honestly … it sounds like a cliché – but my favorite part of working at OCC is that we do such a great job at changing students’ lives. We have amazing career programs that provide students a living wage; transfer programs, skill building to improve employability …

As a faculty member, my favorite memory was seeing students go from being on welfare to finding them a few years after graduation, being a supervisor and doing so well.  As a dean, I enjoyed seeing a building go from planning, to construction, to moving in.  As VPI and then Acting President, I enjoyed carrying the College over the re-accreditation process (ISER and Site Visit) with a positive outcome.

I will miss the cycle of the academic year … students in the fall, opening day FLEX, Senior Day, Honor’s Night… the events around student celebrations.  And I will miss the people who work at OCC – all levels of employees just have such a pride in the accomplishments of the College.

In my retirement, I plan to vacation, visit family and friends that live out of California, and not look at my calendar and email every moment. YES, I plan to come back and visit … to volunteer, for big events and sports. OCC will always be in my life!

Rick Golson -- Faculty, Theatre Arts, hired in 1990

The last time I was hired at Orange Coast College was in 1990. I have been at OCC four separate times: as a student from 1970-73, as a Classified employee from 1974-76 when I was the auditorium (Robert B. Moore Theater) supervisor, and as a part-time then full-time instructor from 1979-83. I was laid off in the big layoff of 1983, and then hired back in 1990. The best part of working at OCC has been working with wonderful students and my colleagues, and my favorite memory is directing the Old Fashioned Christmas Melodrama every year. I’ll miss the students the most, but a close second is my great colleagues! In retirement I plan to travel, read, and volunteer, but I’ll  absolutely be back to visit. I might even teach part time.

Joy Myers -- Coordinator, Dental Assisting, hired in 2017

​I have lived in this area of Orange County for many years, practicing dental assisting and raising my children in Central OC. Over the years I heard many, many comments about Orange Coast College -- how the college was so supportive of students, faculty were exceptional and the Allied Health department had programs that had continuous exceptional reputation in dentistry and health careers. I dreamed of working at Orange Coast College in the ALH Department for a long time. 

Honestly,  there is not one “best part” of working at OCC!  From the moment I stepped on campus for my interviews, my sense of place, my feeling that I have found my work home, has been crystal clear. I was fortunate enough to secure a full-time faculty position in dental assisting and began teaching alongside other faculty and classified staff within the Consumer Health and Science Division. I have been so impressed with the team effort, high standards and outstanding faculty present in the Division. I was also very blessed to have, at one time, Dean Kevin Ballinger as my manager -- he was just amazing in guiding me through the first few years. 

Finally, everywhere I go on the campus, the driving message has been about helping the students achieve their goals … it is such a caring atmosphere.  

I have many favorite memories, but what stands out in my mind is seeing my students work hard, struggle sometimes, and then watching them blossom into exceptional dental assistants at the end of the program. That first pinning ceremony I attended with my students, I could barely keep from weeping I was so proud of them.

I’ll miss the feeling I have when the students work toward their goals and achieve them, their sense of accomplish and growth. The end of the year is always bittersweet and so special. I will miss that, but take those memories with me too.I’ll also miss working with the amazing ALH faculty and people in the CHS Division. 

My husband is also retiring this year, and we purchased a home in McCall, Idaho. Our home is a riverfront property set in the woods, and I can hardly wait to move there in June. We plan to enjoy friends that live there, kayak, boat on the lake, hike, learn to fly fish, ski in winter, and generally relax and have fun! We especially will love sitting on our deck watching the river run by, reading a good book with a nice glass of wine in hand! And at any old time we want! 

This new chapter will be an adjustment but one in which we can enjoy life in an entirely different way! We are truly blessed!!

I will absolutely be back to visit. I have made a few great friends and plan to enjoy the planetarium shows when we are in the area.  OCC is always in my heart and I do love the coastal communities … it will be great to visit!

Irini Rickerson -- Faculty, Art, hired in 1978

I started working at OCC in 1978 upon graduation from the architecture school at the University in Florence, Italy. I started as a part-time instructor in the architecture program. Twelve years later, a full-time position opened in the art department for teaching art history and to also direct the art gallery of the College. This was a dream position for me! I would have the opportunity to be creative by designing special exhibitions and use my academic skills by teaching art history.  At the time, I was teaching part-time all over Southern California at such schools as SCI ARC in Los Angeles SBC, UCI, UCLA, UCR…. but the place I wanted the most to be at full time was OCC. For me, OCC has a special positive energy -- it always felt like a family. People cared, they were excited about their work, and there was so much talent around that I felt inspired and energized by my students and my colleagues!


Meeting so many wonderful people and being able to share with my students has been the best part of working at OCC. Also having the  opportunity to attend different classes taught by my colleagues and learn from them! I have so many wonderful memories at OCC, that is hard to choose a favorite, but if I had to pick one it would be when I received the “Teacher of the Year” award and the “Friend of the Students” award! I will miss my students the most  and the people that I worked and collaborated with.


In my retirement, I plan to live six months in California and six months back home in Athens Greece. I will be spending time with family and friends, and of course with my little grandson River. I will be doing art, writing, continuing with my archaeological research, and I will be lecturing in Europe and in the U.S.


Of course I will also come back to visit OCC. During the time that I will be in California I will always be happy to participate in various activities of the College. For me, OCC is like family and I consider myself very lucky that I had the opportunity to work in such a positive, inspiring environment, and along the way I also was able to meet so many wonderful students and colleagues who enrich my life in so many special ways! Thank you OCC for the 42 wonderful years of my career and thank you David Grant for hiring me!

Mike Wong -- User Support Analyst, Information Technology, hired in 2002 

I first started working at Orange Coast College in June 2002;  I was laid off and looking for anything in my field of work. The best part of working at OCC has been making people happy solving their Mac problems, and playing “Santa Claus” when installing new Macs. My favorite memory that I will take with me as I retire will be that of making many new friends, not just having co-workers. The friends I’ve made here are what I will miss the most. I’ll also miss seeing the completion of the new buildings. I plan to move to Arizona, buy a new house, get remarried, target shoot, ski, travel and not set an alarm clock! Maybe I’ll even come back to visit.