Meet Our Faculty
Calbright faculty have academic and professional expertise in the industries our students are preparing to enter and provide support and guidance – from the curriculum and technology to networking and preparing for interviews. They’re united by their belief that innovations in online learning can make college more personal, flexible, and responsive to students’ needs.
A faculty member in Calbright’s IT program, Michael Stewart is also the president of the Calbright Academic Senate. He’s been teaching IT for eight years at the collegiate level, and has been running his own IT company for 20.
“IT changes quickly, so we are able to use the flexibility that Calbright offers to make sure nothing our students learn is obsolete,” he says. “I tell my students all the time: everything you’re learning here is completely up to date as of five minutes ago.” Faculty are not only using the flexibility of Calbright’s curriculum to keep up with the industry: they’re using it to stay on the same page as their students.
“Teaching at Calbright is a process of constant iteration,” Michael continued. “At faculty meetings we’re always looking at where our students are, what they’re struggling with, and realizing hey, we could add this and make it a little better. We can offer this new thing to help them. We never stop looking at what we deliver and how to improve it. When we conduct a student survey and ask students who are further along in the course about what areas need improvement, or what was lacking, or how they enjoyed it, we can make immediate adjustments to improve the experience for students who are behind them.”
Originally a college drop-out who went into technology, Elizabeth spent over 20 years successfully working in the tech industry as an engineering consultant, technical lead, security researcher, and more. While working as a corporate software engineer she began volunteering with MissionBit, teaching coding to high school students a few nights a week, and discovered a deep passion for teaching. She became especially passionate about teaching to underserved populations, where learning about code could potentially end generational cycles of poverty.
Changing their lives changed hers. She had already gone back to college, studying cybersecurity, and had decided that she wanted to teach full time. She quit her corporate career and worked with MissionBit and Microsoft to build an educational experience for 18-25 year old adults that would prepare them for careers in tech.
Since then she’s taught technical concepts to a diverse population of adult learners, including executives from around the world. At City College of San Francisco, she coached an award-winning team of students who achieved record-breaking wins against teams from institutions including Stanford, Cal Poly, and the University of California.
Now she’s teaching at Calbright. “Calbright represents the possibility for innovation,” she said. “We have the ability to radically change the landscape of higher education for students who are currently underserved. As with my very first teaching job, we can deliver life-changing experiences, confront the digital divide, and support the ending of intergenerational cycles of poverty for our students. With our modes of instruction, we have the opportunity to excise the parts of the old educational model that don’t work anymore, in favor of methods that are more relevant and useful to our student base.”
Ashley Odell has worked in career services and instruction since 2012, including stints at the University of California. Davis and the Tri-Valley One Stop Career Center, where she helped support career development for students and un-and-underemployed adults.
At Calbright, she has developed the new Career Readiness program that prepares students to access new fields, find the jobs they want, and thrive in the workplace by applying soft skills, effective communication approaches and positive mindsets.
“Students need to be prepared to successfully secure employment after completing their educational program by developing strong job-search approaches, which are covered in depth in the curriculum,” she says. “Technical skills are not enough to get a job and succeed in the workplace, students must also understand and apply their own values, strengths and skills to their work, work collaboratively with others, find motivation, take initiative, set goals, make decisions, manage stress, be resilient in the face of setbacks, manage their time appropriately and apply a growth mindset and self-compassion when things get hard.”
She says Calbright is particularly positioned to support working adults because its model is more flexible and more focused on mastery. “We support the student in reviewing the content and repeating the assessments until they are able to demonstrate the skill, because the coursework is designed to apply directly to the workplace and content has been chosen specifically because of the clear relationship to success as an employee.”
Julian holds an MA in Business Administration from CSU Bakersfield and a Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University. In addition to teaching Business Introduction, Marketing, and Career Readiness courses, he has workforce training experience with first-time African American students and students who are incarcerated at the California City Correctional Institution.
He is passionate about establishing connections with his students, and says that’s one of the keys to their success. If a student feels connected, they can achieve a lot by putting in just 4-15 hours a week, working around their own schedule.
“Academic content is easily found online, however one of the most impactful components of learning through an institution is the relationships students have with instructors,” he says. “An online instructor must proactively reach out to students more so than those in person. It becomes crucial for online instructors to constantly be reaching out to students and encouraging them to continue.”
Cindy has worked in the healthcare industry since 1995, and has been teaching Medical Office Admin, Billing, and Coding since 2010.
“I have worked in different areas of healthcare, but medical billing and coding are my favorite,” she said. “I love that at Calbright we are giving an opportunity to individuals to improve their skills and obtain a new career that they’ll love, too.”
She says the secret to a successful online education is to connect with her students in meaningful ways.
“Being an online faculty member means you have to be more proactive and deliberate in what you are doing to reach the student. At Calbright, we have the ability to see and understand that our students have obstacles or other distractions that can sometimes hinder them from getting their work completed or even reaching out when they need help. Building a relationship with the student helps them to build trust and reach out when help is needed. And because we’re flexibly paced and focused on the student’s needs, we can offer a lot more support than most schools.”