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A Look Back With: Yuet-Ling O’Connor

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Yuet-Ling O’Connor, natural sciences instructor, is one of a kind, and her journey to PCC reflects the individuality that shines in classes and her unique take on education.

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Concepcion Gonzalez / Courier 

Yuet-Ling O’Connor leads T’ai chi by the Mirror Pools on Feb 26.

She started her college life at Hunter College in New York City, finished her undergraduate studies in three and a half years, then went to the University of Pittsburgh. Afterwards she attended the University of Vienna, the Chinese University and finally back to Hunter College to complete her studies.

O’Connor had a different journey through her educational career than most, starting later – at the age of 21 – and working full time for the first two years of her college life. She did not start graduate school until the age of 40 and already with four children of her own never thought of herself becoming a teacher.

“I was a terrible student, I never wanted to be a teacher. When I graduated there was a choice: at the time I thought I wanted to be a research scientist, not a teacher,” said O’Connor. “I don’t want to be tortured the way I tortured my teachers back in the day.”

When the demands of life as a research scientist weighed against her family responsibilities, she began to look at options that would best suit her and her children. Teaching now became a viable choice for O’Connor.

“I recognize now this is much more meaningful than learning tiny specks of information that no-one [really] cares about,” said O’Connor. “I am really glad that life happened in such a way to bring me where I am today, I love my job.”

For the past 10 years O’Connor has been at PCC teaching, and co-advising the Yoga and meditation club.

What do you remember most about college: “I did not have a typical college experience, with working full time and taking 24 units per semester, my college experience was working, working, working.”

Worst thing about college: “That it’s not about education, it’s more about hierarchy, jumping through hoops and playing the game.”

If you could go back and change one thing what would it be: “I’ve heard that question asked many times before and heard people say they wouldn’t change a thing, and I think to myself you idiot. Did you not learn anything?  If I learned anything from my experience is that I would not take 24 units per semester like I was doing, I would [try to] have a college experience.”

Student Opinion: Jessica Morgan a freshmen, says: “[I’m] inspired. She is not a typical teacher.  She teaches with the lights off and the shades open to conserve energy. She is very environmentally friendly and very supportive.  She is different from any other teacher I have ever had and I can’t wait to learn more.”

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