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It took me four years to complete the first two years of college. Then, due to a happy infusion of hard-earned money, I was able to spend two years at Sonoma State completing my B.A. in English. I was so entranced by the curriculum and professors, Dr. Mary Rich, in particular, but with much help from Gerald Haslam, Dorothy Overly, Hector Lee, Dick Hendrickson (who employed me in his “External Degree” office, which helped pay the bills), William Lee, Ardath Lee, Sally Ewen and Sam Bullen. I signed on for the M.A. in English as well. It took four years to complete that program, due to outside interests such as travel in Europe for a semester. I finished my M.A. in 1977, six years after I enrolled in the college.

Having worked in the university library for two years, I went to work in the used-book business in the Bay Area, finally ending up at Moe’s Books back home in Berkeley. I was then “recruited” in 1980 for the job I had originally gone to college for, teaching low-income, at-risk youth. Within a year, I was working on my single-subject credential in English (at S.F. State) and planning for my next M.A. degree, in Education (U.C. Berkeley, 1986). After seven years of teaching the hardest-nosed of the hard-nosed kids, I reached critical burn out and moved over to teaching college English, mostly in community colleges, discovering that my M.A. in English from Sonoma had also earned me a “Lifetime” credential (no longer available, unfortunately).

Seven years later, having burned out on part-time teaching at two or three colleges, with uncertain assignments, no office, no desk, no access to other instructors, etc., I was offered a full-time position as special education director at a start-up school in San Francisco. From there I moved to a federally-funded vocational program as both administrator and special education director. From there I moved to special education director at a well-known independent school in San Francisco, where I am very happy.

I blame Sonoma State for my successes and myself for any failures along the way. As small as it was in 1971, Granola State - oops! Sonoma State! provided me with a big education. The ability to take courses like French Literature in Translation, Dante and Virgil, and James Joyce, encouraged me to study “life” which in turn gave me unlimited access to the unlimited knowledge of “liberal arts.” For those who keep track, I’ve never been employed in one position for more than 5.5 years and I’ve only been unemployed once. It’s been a great ride!

—Jack Jackson, B.A., English, 1973
M.A., English,1977


I was absolutely thrilled with the latest Sonoma Insights! Usually it is nice, but this one was amazing, and I would like to forward some articles to friends. I looked for, but could not find, a web address. Do you have a website that I can go onto and download articles? If not, please set up one if you can. I loved the article “Lost and Found: The Gifts of Aging.” I am also 60 this year. Ms. Stewart completely captured my own searching and magnificently and eloquently spoke its rewards and gifts. Congratulations on an extremely special article.

—Michael Oster
B.A., Business Administration, 1976

Find this issue and others here.


The latest issue of Insights is great. It looks good and has an interesting mix of articles. I especially like the expanded Alumnotes section. Keep up the good work.

—Joseph S. Tenn, Professor
Department of Physics & Astronomy, Sonoma State University

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