The accidental, slightly reluctant educator / by Helen Arase

The University of La Verne needed someone to teach a few photography courses. Well, they needed three professors’ worth of classes to be taught since the chair, the only other full-time professor and the senior-most adjunct professor all left the university.

The committee to replace the chair didn’t find anyone so the interim chair, Morgan, and the now senior-most adjunct instructor, Art, asked me if I would consider teaching.

Talk about being blind-sided by a different career path…

My resume and transcripts were expedited through the department and straight to the dean since it was the week before the semester started.

Because I have big doses of self-doubt at times I asked Art if I got the job because I was qualified or if it was because I knew most of the department. And I’m so relieved that he said my name came up because they knew who I was but it was because I was qualified with experience in the areas of photography, and that the dean was the one who made the hiring decision after Art passed along my unofficial “application.”

I put application in quotations because I really didn’t apply for the job - it was offered and slammed through the process.

So now I’m teaching a documentary photography course. It’s an independent study-type of schedule and format, and I have two students. I’m cleared to advise the photography staff/teach photojournalism courses in the spring if I want.

The great thing about the format of this semester’s class is that it doesn’t really get in the way if I freelance or get another job because there isn’t a set schedule, and it’s longterm, student-driven coursework.


I am actively applying for jobs in the field of journalism. ULV knows this and the photo department faculty are supportive of me following my dream.

I want to be a journalist so badly that it hurts. I’ll do any medium and cover any beat. There have been some open positions for stuff like community or cops beats. Breaking news sounds exciting. Getting out into the community sounds exciting.

And if I got a job that was writing or something with less traveling I could get to know the community by going out and photographing. It wouldn’t have to be for the outlet or anything but just so the community would get to know who I am and I would get to know them too.

For now though I’m treading water and trying to stay productive, creative and journalistic. I went to USC to learn more skills for practical application in the field, and I intend to use them.