CSUSB Advising Podcast

Ep. 50 - A Conversation w/ Provost Rafik Mohamed

April 09, 2023 Matt Markin Season 1 Episode 50
Ep. 50 - A Conversation w/ Provost Rafik Mohamed
CSUSB Advising Podcast
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CSUSB Advising Podcast
Ep. 50 - A Conversation w/ Provost Rafik Mohamed
Apr 09, 2023 Season 1 Episode 50
Matt Markin

In Episode 50 of the CSUSB Advising Podcast, Matt Markin is joined by Ed Mendoza, Director of Academic Advising to co-host this special 50th episode! We chat with Dr. Rafik Mohamed, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs! Learn about Dr. Mohamed's responsibilities to CSUSB, his path with majors, what it means to be a "steward of place" and his message to you, the CSUSB Coyote! 

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#acadv #academicadvising #collegemajors #csusb #calstate #highereducation

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Show Notes Transcript

In Episode 50 of the CSUSB Advising Podcast, Matt Markin is joined by Ed Mendoza, Director of Academic Advising to co-host this special 50th episode! We chat with Dr. Rafik Mohamed, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs! Learn about Dr. Mohamed's responsibilities to CSUSB, his path with majors, what it means to be a "steward of place" and his message to you, the CSUSB Coyote! 

Subscribe to the CSUSB Advising Podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google and more!

Follow us on social media:

Instagram & Tik Tok - @csusbadvising
Facebook - CSUSB Advising
Twitter - @csusb_advising
YouTube - @csusbadvising

https://csusbadvising.buzzsprout.com/

#acadv #academicadvising #collegemajors #csusb #calstate #highereducation

Subscribe to the CSUSB Advising Podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google and more!

Follow us on social media:

Instagram & Tik Tok - @csusbadvising
Facebook - CSUSB Advising
Twitter - @csusb_advising
YouTube - @csusbadvising

https://csusbadvising.buzzsprout.com/

Hey Yoties. welcome back to the CSUSB advising podcast. It's a very special episode as if you can believe it, we've made it to 50 episodes. My name is Matt Markin, an academic advisor here at Cal State San Bernardino. And on today's episode, I'd like to introduce Dr. Rafik Mohamed. Dr. Mohamed was named Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at CSUSB effective January 1 of 2023. Dr. Mohamed joined the University in 2015, when he was appointed to serve as Dean of the College of Social Behavioral Sciences, home to 10 academic departments and schools. His previous positions include Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of San Diego, and Chair of the Department of Social Sciences at Clayton State University in Georgia. He received a bachelor's degree in sociology and criminal justice from George Washington University, and a master's degree in social ecology and a PhD in criminology, law, and society from UC Irvine. Dr. Mohamed, welcome to the CSUSB advising podcast.

Hey, Matt, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

Yeah, we're glad that you're here. And let's go to get started. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background and higher education?

Sure, let's see. Well, you er, you already said my name. So that's good. I don't need to reintroduce myself there. And you have a little bit of my educational bio. I mean, I'm originally from the Washington DC area, born in DC and raised primarily in Maryland, right outside of DC, not to be confused with Baltimore, right to the DC side of of the tracks over there. I mean, just in terms of, personally, you know, my father was a was an immigrant from Guyana, who came to the United States to go to college at Howard University in Washington, DC. And my mother is originally from DC, DC and Maryland. And so they met when my dad was a student at Howard. And so DC has always been kind of home for me, and really just kind of what, what really just energized me around all sorts of things and led me to where I am now. My background in higher ed is that I started off my college career as an accounting major, I took an accounting class when I was in high school and a law class when I was in high school. And, and I really enjoyed both of those. So my intention was to earn my degree in accountancy, become a CPA, then go to law school and enter into a life a very attractive life as a corporate lawyer, or a tax lawyer, whoo. But I, I That was my plan. And so as I often say, accounting wasn't terribly hard. It just wasn't terribly interesting. And I don't mean that to disparage accountants. That's just how it landed with me. And I thought if I continue just to stare at Ledger's or help people do taxes for the rest of my life, I don't know that I'd find the fulfillment that I was looking for in that. And so, you know, I kind of veered from that path. But, you know, again, growing I growing up in DC, when I grew up in DC, it was really kind of interesting time, it was a time of a lot of conflict and turmoil, the height of the war on drugs, lots of kind of very glaring disparities in terms of how different groups of people were being treated by the legal and criminal justice systems. And so, you know, my background and orientation is kind of firmly rooted in that kind of lived experience coming up. So that's a little bit about me, my background in higher ed, as you mentioned, I went to George Washington University as an undergrad wasn't terribly sophisticated in terms of how I chose my undergraduate institution, I was from DC GW is in DC. When I toured campus, it was a beautiful spring day, the birds were chirping and things like that, and, and the cherry blossoms were blooming, and I kind of decided to go to and I was looking for a place with a good accountancy program. So I decided to go to GW because of that. Ultimately, I left GW to go to UC Irvine, for graduate school, specifically because of the program they had in social ecology, which was an interdisciplinary program that really allowed me to look at different things that I was interested in instead of having to be kind of under one specific disciplinary umbrella. And, you know, and as you mentioned, I was at University of San Diego, Clayton State University, and now I have the great good fortune of being here at Cal State San Bernardino.

I appreciate that for giving us your story. And I like to introduce my boss, the Director of Academic Advising here at CSUSB Ed Mendoza, who's going to be joining us to co host this interview with you, Dr. Mohamed.

Dr. Mohamed, I apologize for being late. This is our 50th podcast, my first one as a co host. I'm very nervous myself, because Matt does a great job. It's hard to compete, or at least at the level that Matt's been doing, and I apologize for being late. I did get to hear the answer and I appreciate you joining us today.

My pleasure and good to see you, Ed.

Thank you. In hearing your answers, right, the second question was really that path because we have a lot of students who are either undeclared, or when they decide it's not really the one they stick with at graduation. And I think you're a good example of how you can be successful, even when you change your major a couple of times. So you little, you talked a little bit about it, but I don't know if he's anything you want to add in terms of the path you took to decide on the major and how it's okay to change your mind at times.

Yeah, you know, look, I understand that people come into college with a specific sometimes with no idea what they're going to study, right? Must the undeclared bucket or with an idea that they have to study a particular have to pursue a predict a particular academic path, if they're going to be successful, right. So you have, you know, folks who are like you who look at the college experience in a very linear way, I, I want a good job. Therefore, I need to major in, you know, business, for example. And I tell folks all the time, that, you know, if you if you study what really interests and excites you, or what drives you motivates you what instills passion in you, you're going to be far more successful, not just in college, but in life, you will find much greater gratification. And through college and afterward, if you simply pursue your passions, the rest of this stuff will work out, you know, I know a lot of people who, who studied what they thought they ought to have studied and even have successful careers, but aren't very happy. And I'm not saying I'm Mr. Happy, right, but, but they you know, they don't, they don't feel like, you know, they feel like work is work, they don't feel like there's a purpose behind what they do. They don't have passionate about what they do. And you know, I can think of, I can't think of things, you know, we spend most of our waking hours at work. And if I if I hated what I did, and there are some days where I'm like, What am I doing, but if I hated what I did, or if I found it just to be drudgery, you know, we're working for 30 plus years of our lives, you know, that's, that's just it's miserable. And I know people who are miserable every day when they go to work. And I'm like, Why do you do that, you know? You have to pay the bills, you have to keep the lights on. But I also know people who pursue their passions academically, and, and happened into much more fulfilling careers. And I think about my little sister is a good example of that. She's, she's an engineer by training. And she was passionate about engineering, she always loved engineering. And because of that, she just immersed herself and in her studies had a really great undergraduate experience. And now she's doing things because she was focused on that. And she loved what she was studying, she picked up all these other kinds of tangential skills that have allowed her to springboard into a whole different career that has nothing to do with engineering she works for. She's the see the COO of a tech company, right, which isn't her background, but because of how she was able to embrace her study, she was able to move into a whole different discipline, and loves what she does, loves every minute of what she does. And so, you know, for me, like I said, I was an accounting major, and, you know, could have continued along that path was thinking I was going to go to law school. But growing up in DC at that time, as I said, looking at the disparities in the criminal justice system, looking at socio economic disparities in DC at that time, you know, I was really bothered by what was going on around me and had questions about what was going on around me, I happened to take a constitutional law class as an undergraduate just because I was interested in the law. And that class just really blew me away. It was a anybody who's ever taken common law, common law has kind of broken into two different buckets, right? There's the nuts and bolts of the Constitution. And then there's the civil liberties piece. And the civil liberties piece kind of really looks at law as a vehicle for social change law on inequality, things like that. And, and that just really spoke to me in the context of what was going on in DC and the nation at that time, again, at the height of the war on drugs and, and I was like, I can't stay in accounting anymore. I must, I must study something that that speaks to me. And so I had also taken a couple of sociology and criminal justice classes, and found that those really spoke to me more than any class I was taking in business at that time. And that's, again, not to disparage business. But, because of that. I was able to, you know, I, someone, I found a mentor, who really just like opened up different doors for me because I was interested in what I was studying. That interest came across in the work that I was submitting in class, and he took an interest in me, right. And so, like that never would have happened if I had stayed in accountancy. And so you know that that's what led to the switch. And I'm, you know, eternally grateful to my mentor, but also very thankful for making that decision to change majors because it did open up a whole new world of possibilities for me, I never thought I was going to be a professor, I never thought I would be at higher ed, again, I thought I was going to be an attorney. And and I'm really thrilled that I ended up as a professor, and then I ended up with a career that I have in higher ed.

Thank you for sharing that it to your point, the students, there's that fear of change in delaying graduation, and what that does for their future. But even to the point of, if they're students who believe the major dictates the career, but many majors can still branch out and this skill set that you mentioned, great example of your sister doing that. So thank you for sharing.

Sure. I mean, there are very few majors that lead definitively to a specific career or conversely, you know, there are very few careers that require a particular pathway of study, you know, nursing is an obvious exception, right? Like, you know, you don't want your nurse to be a French literature major, right? Like, I mean, you they can't be, but they better have taken the nursing classes as well, right? You know, so nursing is a good example, you want your CPA to have an accounting background, right. But beyond that, you know, the whole beauty of the undergraduate experience, is really being able to pursue your passions and, and see where that takes you. Obviously, you don't want to linger around for eight years, you know, spending all that money in that time, right? But but really, you know, college is about finding yourself and finding where you fit in the world. And using the resources that are here, in terms of the classes, the, you know, great advisors we have here on campus, and things like that, to really just kind of, you know, find your footing and figure out what you want to do next.

Well said, and you're mentioning also being a professor. And I know, as faculty, students have what I've read, have praised your engaging and creative teaching style. So when you when you teach, what did you hope students would gain from the classes that you've taught?

Let's see, well, when I first started teaching, I was still a graduate student at UC Irvine at that time. And number one, I mean, that's what pushed me into the professor into into being a professor. I was, even when I was in graduate school, initially, I was intending to go more of a policy route, I worked for a think tank in Santa Monica called the RAND Corporation while I was a graduate student, and thought that that's what I was going to do, you know, to basically do research for, like, on government contracts, and things like that. But I had the opportunity to serve as a teaching assistant, while I was in graduate school, and I had my own discussion sections. And that just, that just rocked my world, right. I was like, wow, this is great. Like, I'm learning from my students. And, you know, I don't know what they're learning for me, but, but it was just like, a really wonderful opportunity just to engage with, with with, you know, these bright young minds, and just really, it's kind of, you know, so for me, you know, I, I went into being a professor because of that experience, I, I still studied policy, but really sought opportunities to be in a place where I can be valued for teaching. To your question about what did I hope students would gain from from from my classes? Initially, you know, I think a lot of our, a lot of our students here can relate to this, you know, my, my whole life as a student, and my, my professional career, you know, I've been saddled with with impostor syndrome, right. And so, you know, that part of it was just my own insecurities. And part of it was, you know, as a person of color, frankly, you know, I had lots of people tell me over the course of my career that, you know, I either didn't belong where I was, or that I was there for, you know, reasons other than my merits. And so, you know, as a professor, I wrestled with that aspect of imposter syndrome. But also when I first started, you know, I'm a little bit older now. But when I first started, as a professor, I was, I was still in my 20s. And so I was, you know, barely older than my students. And I was like, well, what the heck. Who do I think I am standing here, you know, telling them anything, you know, I'm just trying to stay a chapter ahead of them. But once I found my footing, I got more comfortable with not having to be the expert, and really just using the classroom as an opportunity to engage students in critical dialogue and critical thought, no matter what the class As I was teaching, and you know, I remember when I was when I left the University of San Diego, I'd been there 10 years teaching in the Department of Sociology, and I was chair of the department as you, as you mentioned, Matt. But the I was sitting there looking at it in retrospect, actually was like, 2008. And I was like, what if my students learned, like, you know, I've taught 20 different sections of intro to sociology, but what have they learned? You know, what am I doing? And I remember I got it, I got to, this was right after Obama was elected the first time. And I got an email from one of my students who said to me, she wrote, she said, I don't know if you remember me, I was in your intro to sociology class, and you were talking about whatever race and ethnicity because social insurance, sociologists kind of broke it up into different modules. And she said, you said that you were fairly confident that in your lifetime, you would see a woman president, but because of the history of the United States, the history of race relations in the United States, you are certain that you would never live to see a black president. And I just want to know how you feel now, right? And she wasn't saying you're wrong. She was just saying, you know, that landed with me, how do you feel? And and I wrote her back, and I did remember her, and I wrote her back and just shared how I felt that won't bore you with that. But you know, I remember when I got that email, when I've received, you know, received other emails from students over the years, or, you know, I hope students gain I hope to gain something for being in a class with the other than being entertained, right. But I really, you know, if anything I want to make, I want them to just think more critically about who they are, about the world we live in about how we got where we are about, you know, there's this, there's this sociologist, named Seawright Mills, and he wrote this book called the sociological imagination that I used to teach in my intro to social classes. And he referred to the sociological imagination as the the, the need to be skeptical of the conventional wisdom. And there's a difference between skepticism and cynicism, right? You don't want people just to say, the system, right? But you do want to always be asking, how do we get where we are? Like, what, what about this? is natural? Like, there's always something that got us here? And what is that something? And how do I fit in all of this? How am I reinforcing that something? How am I challenging that something? For me, the whole experience has been really, you know, I don't I don't have my opinions. I don't pretend to have all the answers. There are facts that I know that I think I know, right? Because people smarter than I have shared those facts over over, you know, decades and centuries. But but but I don't pretend to be the expert. I, you know, for students in class, I just, I just want to, I just want to be a provocateur in some ways, just to have them kind of think a little bit more deeply a little bit more critically, and to figure out also what it is that they want to do when they when they leave the university.

As a colleague, as someone who's been in higher ed, for some time I, I live have lived imposter syndrome myself and to see leaders, men of color, yourself, our president, it inspires, it gives us confidence, so not to answer for you. But a lot of your students probably gain confidence in seeing you up there in front of the classroom, of what they can do in the future, too. So I think that's very important. There's the direct connections to what we we try to do with students, but there's the unintentional thing that students just receive and all of us, I appreciate that. Thank you for sharing. 

Sure, Ed. 

Thank you to go along with that not to skip all the other roles you've had because those are been very important. If I can jump to your current role as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, for for those listening, what does that mean and what is the day to day for you? What are your responsibilities as provost and VP of Academic Affairs?

You know, my my predecessors dean of social behavioral sciences, Jim Elvis are once referred to the dean job is death by meetings. And the provost if the Deans job is death by meetings, the provost it's like, it's like death, reincarnation and death again, by meetings, right? It's endless meetings. But you know, in a nutshell, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is the Chief Academic Officer for the institution. And as the President describes it, the institution's chief operating officer so the president serves as the chief executive officer, and the provost is the The Chief Operating Officer, in terms of what I do, I oversee the Division of Academic Affairs. So that includes all of the academic colleges. So natural sciences, social behavioral sciences, business, education, arts and letters. All of those Dean's report to me, I also see a oversee ASUA, indirectly. I mean, Kelly Campbell, the Vice Provost does but But Leslie reports to Kelly who reports to me, so that's in the all of our students success initiatives are in the provost portfolio, enrollment management. So admissions, recruitment, outreach, all of that is in the provost portfolio, or at least the AVP, for enrollment management, we oversee the library, we oversee the College of Extending Global Education, so all of our studies abroad, as well as all of our self support programs, and things like that. So it's, it's aside from the President's the biggest portfolio, on campus, and essentially, all of the curriculum, all of the assessments, all of those kinds of things, all of the Student Support Services in terms of advisement and things like that. And all the enrollment comes through the provost office, in terms of day to day, is it's a lot of meetings. My calendar is generally full, from, you know, if I'm lucky, I avoid eight o'clock meetings, I don't find eight o'clock meetings to be productive at all people are scrambling into the office and whatever. But my days usually begin with the nine o'clock meeting. And if I'm lucky, and after the four o'clock meeting that ends at five, but oftentimes, their evening engagements, I mean, part of the Provost job also is not just standing in for the President or representing the President, but it's also representing Academic Affairs at lots of different events, and and in lots of different professional contexts. So I often have evening engagements and weekend engagements and things like that all to support the academic mission of the institution.

If I can add something there when I was a student, and I decided to go into higher ed, I thought, how can I attend meetings and get paid just to go to meetings? Normally, there was another piece to it in the office of still doing work? Yeah. Oh, yeah. Make sure I might have been the only one that takes us there. But for those listening means doesn't mean that's all you do. There's other pieces of the job. The meetings take up a lot of your time. But there's still a lot of work behind the scenes. And those meetings are important, because those are the meetings where decisions are made to support our students. But there's still a lot of work behind the scenes. And I didn't realize that until I started working.

Yeah. Now the meetings are good meetings, many meetings are important. Many meetings aren't there. They're I mean, they're they could be they could be run much more efficiently. I remember I say this all the time. John Wooden, who was the head coach of UCLA basketball for a lot of years, the Wizard of Westwood, I think they want to live in titles or something like that, under John Wooden, he I heard in one said that he referred to dribbling and basketball, as motion without progress, right? You see all these guys who have these great handles, and they can do all these things. And it's so much more efficient, just to pass the ball to someone else to move the ball around that way than to try to break down defenders with dribbling and blah, blah, blah. So motion without progress. And that's how I view lots of meetings. It's just sitting there, when you're like, I really need to be doing this, right. I've, my email is piling up while I'm sitting in here. But I'm stuck in this meeting. So there are meetings that are critical. But there are meetings that we could do without or can be or could be much shorter. One of the thing I will say but just very quickly about being Provost as Provost was a job that I never thought I wanted it until like, a year ago, it was the job. I said, I don't know that I ever want to be the Provost. It's, you know, in some ways natural progression from if you're going to move beyond being a dean, provost and president are kind of the two steps beyond that. But but the reason I never wanted to be a provost is because I always say, I got into this business because I loved working with students. Still to this day, well, not not since COVID. But pre COVID. I would teach generally once a year, I don't get paid to teach, right it was my wife thinks I'm crazy for teaching. She's like, wow, you already have enough work to do. But I would I would teach because I got into this business because I love being with students and and I feel like I have an obligation to know who our students are. And I will say there are two places where the outside world goes away for me. One is the basketball court and I can't play basketball anymore because my knees are shot. Right and so but the other place is a classroom. That's when I'm in there with students. That's the The only place where nothing else matters. It's like we're in a little bubble. And it's just me engaging with students, you know, me learning from them that Yeah. And and the provost job, more than any other job in on the academic side of the university takes me farther away from students, then then then I care to be. And so I never thought I wanted this job now that I'm in the job, I appreciate the job because I can, I still have a way to directly affect in a positive way students. But it was kind of an intellectual challenge for me to to become provost.

And I think a good segue is to the next question is you're talking about students, and I've read in an article where you mentioned that the overall goal is helping students to find their own future. And this idea of steward of place. Can you describe more about this? And how CSUSB assists students?

Sure, so the first of all, the concept of steward of place is, you know, virtually every university says their steward of place, I've been places where that's not necessarily the case, right? Where you're, you're an island unto yourself, you're located in a community, but not a part of the community. That's not the case here at CSUSB. We are definitively stewards of place and that we feel on this campus that we there's a fluidity between us in the community, and that we have an obligation to not just be a resource for community members to come here and get an education, but to be a resource in other ways to really help support and uplift the Inland Empire and specifically, San Bernardino. Can we do better? Absolutely. We're here in kind of Northern San Bernardino, kind of detached from the heart of San Bernardino, do we need to do better engaging with the largest ? Absolutely, but, but still, you know, we are an anchor institution, we employ a lot of folks, but also, the people who come here to CSUSB, like 80% of our alumni are still in the in the IE. So we have a direct symbiotic relationship with the larger community. So when we say steward of place, that is who we are, we have an obligation to help support to be responsive to to be a resource for the larger sandbar yo community. With that said, you know, I think that, you know, in addition to just our general academic mission of come here and get you learn on, you know, you know, study your biology, study your chemistry, study, your fine arts, study, your whatever it is, you know, study or sociology, you know, whatever it is that you're studying, let me not discount the other colleges, study your education, study your, you know, business, but, you know, we, you know, in addition to ensuring that we have the highest possible quality education in terms of academic instruction, you know, our job is to really help our students understand how they can continue to give back and contribute to the larger community, like to find their purpose in that space. And to go back out there, and, and help us uplift their community, help us inspire other folks to come and find their path help us, you know, problem solve in the community, right? Be be collaborators with us in that space. And so when I say, you know, that, that we're helping students to find their own future, certainly, yes, we want that academic piece. But also, we want them to, to understand that, you know, life's not just about what job you have, life's not just about what credentials you hold, life is about how you are giving back to all of the different communities you belong to. Because at the end of the day, you know, there's that saying, He who has the most toys wins. That's a load of garbage, right? I mean, it's nice to have nice things. Right. But that's not you know, as I'm, you know, in the, in the second half of my career, I'll say, at this stage, you know, and looking back the things I, you know, the things I remember, aren't the aren't the toys I've had, it's not the not the stuff I've accumulated, it's going going back to what I was saying about the Obama election, you know, it's, it's about the people whose lives I've been fortunate enough to have touched, and it's about the people who have touched my life. And so that's the other piece of of, of higher ed that I think, you know, sadly, I think as a nation we're losing sight of, but I know you know, personally for me, that's what I see. You know, my one of my key roles is.

Thank you. So CSUSB we we for for all the years I can remember we bring in freshmen straight out of high school, just graduated and we help them transition to our university. And we bring in transfer students, mainly from our local community college, but from any university out there, what message would you give to our incoming coyotes?

Ah, coming straight out of high school. Let's see, sorry. I live in verse. It's so. So, message to the brand new categories and may 1, going back to what I've been saying over and over again, study what you love, study, you know, study, what excites you study what interests you? Don't worry. This is hard to say, right? But don't worry about career, how much money you're going to make. Those kinds of things. I know, that's important. You know, and I know nothing is certain. But if you pursue your passions, like I said, opportunities are much more likely to come your way, and you are much more likely to be happy doing what you do. And I look at, I look at social work, right. And social work is a hugely demanding job. I mean, it's a field, right? There's not one job social work, right? You know, but But you look at career satisfaction. Social workers don't make a ton of money. But they're, they are some of the most satisfied people in the workforce with respect to what it is they do. Because they they know they are directly and positively helping people and affecting people's lives. There's, there's a high burnout rate, but they know that they are having an impact. If you come in just thinking, I need a job, I need a job well, great. But you're you can come out of here with a degree in job and go get a job. But ultimately, you know, that job is not going to get back to you. And you're not going to be maximizing your potential in that space. So my advice first and foremost is, you know, study study, what, what motivates you what excites you? And if that changes, then you can change course, right? Listen to your advisers who listen to your advisers, but, but really, you can change course, ultimately, you know, it. There's that piece, right. The other thing is the other advice I have for all students when they come in, is get engaged, like, engage yourself with campus. I'm an introvert, people don't believe it, but I am, I can sit by myself all day and be just fine. Right? But you know, I'm fortunate that my job requires me to be to at least fake being extroverted, right? And, and to be a little bit more engaging, but, but really, you know, college is a, you're never going to have the luxury in life that you have in college of just self exploration of using all of the resources, we spent millions and millions of dollars on this campus every year to provide support for students, generally speaking, not just what y'all do, over in a sewer, like the great work that you do to kind of guide students with their curriculum and things like that. But but really, like we have affinity groups, clubs and organizations, we have internships are so many different things that you can do as a student on this campus. So just take advantage of those resources. And I know it's hard for folks, for me, I was not engaged at all, as an undergraduate student at all. If it wasn't for my mentor, kind of pulling me out of the weeds, I would have no connection to my undergraduate institution. i In all honesty, I speak to people who I went to college with, and I was in college for five years before graduate school. And that's not the way to do it. Like I actually regret that. I wish I had studied abroad. I run a study abroad program now, which has been the most fulfilling thing in my career, I think. But But I didn't take advantage of that. I didn't play intramural sports until I was a faculty member. Right. But there's so many other things that you can so many things you can do other than than just coming here going to class and going home, really just like get engaged, get involved, make friends, study abroad, you know, take advantage of all the opportunities because you won't regret it. And it's going to really help you find your path.

And as we get to the to the end, I think kind of now connecting to the last question as this as this has been recorded in April. You know, we do you know, aside from talking about our new students coming in, we also have our CSUSB students that are graduating next month. Do you have any words of encouragement for our soon to be graduates?

This is going to be one of the first years that I don't have the obligation of speaking my own words, to graduates right as provost, you get a script handed to you, rather than writing your own remarks. So ordinarily, I'd be thinking about that right now. Like, what's my charge to graduates going to be? You know, I'm thinking back over the years of different themes that I've had one of which was do better. And that was probably my favorite. There was a story that went along with that, I'll give you the really quick version of the story, feel free to edit it out if you want that. But the story was, when I was at Clayton State, I decided I was tired of being connected all the time. So I decided to get rid of my smartphone. And I went specifically intentionally to a dumb phone. Right. And so I got a phone that that basically called and text texted, but that was it, right? Anyway, so my phone was sitting on my desk one day, student, I'll never forget, her name's Claire cres, walked into my office. And she had a question for me. So she she walks in, and she starts asking me the question that she notices the phone on my desk. And she's like, is that your phone? And I said, Yes, it is. And she said, do better. And I'm my message to students isn't technology or bagging on antiquated technology, right? Although my current Android is a little bit old, I might need to update that. But, but, but but really, it's I look at that statement of do better. As as a mantra as a as a as a challenge as you go about life when you're graduating. Yes, it's it's a milestone. It is a great achievement. I mean, I look at our students, my favorite, one of the most emotional things for being in higher ed is specific to this campus. And it's at commencement. And it's when President Morales says to the graduates, how many of you first in your family to earn a four year degree, and like 80% of the graduates stand up? And they're the that is an achievement, they are the first in their families to successfully navigate college, which is hard, right? It's hard because life is hard, right? It's also hard when you don't when you're the first, you know, you're Magellan, you're the way you know, you're the Explorer, right? You don't have folks with that experience to say, Here's how I did it. Like my little sister. She followed me to college, three years after we went to the same university, so she had, she could just like, ask me whatever questions she had, and I was there to kind of counsel her, I was like, here's what you need to do. You think about so many of our students don't have that benefit coming in the door. So the fact that they made it to the finish line is just marvelous, and needs to be celebrated. So take that time to celebrate that. But you ain't done. Do better, right? Like, it's, you should always be about, as I said before, thinking about how you can continue to grow, how you can continue to serve your community, how you can continue to make yourself a better person, so that you can be a resource for those who need you, or might need you as a resource. And so the words of encouragement I have is like never, never stop learning. Never stop thinking about how you can you can support your community. And, and, and, and go out there and kick some butt. That and that's kind of it.

i This is more of a joke question. But you mentioned earlier you there's two people you talk to as an undergrad, I hope you're not kind of your sister is one of those?

No, no, that's a good morning. So there's three, I still talk to my circuit. There are there are three people, it's Dave Ford and Philadelphia, Dan Cooper, who is in LA, and my sister. So three.

We just added up another 50% to your list.

There you go. Thank you. Thank you for that. Nope. See. That's that's why you're here to help everybody.

Now, we thank you for joining us today. I know the folks that join and listen to this podcast will will gain something out of it. I know I gained something out of it. We enjoy listening to other people's journeys and the messages they have because part of being in higher ed and I think you agree that we enjoy because we can give our information our opinions back so other students can make their own decisions and create their own path to what they want to do. But hear from others that have gone through that journey. A little is nice just to get other people's opinions. So we appreciate that.

Yeah, I agree. And that's the thing. I love that higher ed said. Like there's always you're always learning like I last thing I'll say, and you get mad you can edit this out is that I love to being a professor. And I miss I don't miss grading, I miss being in the classroom, which I've already said. But the thing I love the most aside for us, in addition to working with students, is I got paid to think I got paid to think about whatever I wanted to think about. I got paid to be around other people who were sources of knowledge, sources of inspiration, sources of empowerment. And so that's like, that's the beauty of a college campus, right? Is that you? You're always around folks, you never know where it's gonna come from. It's not just the professor's like I said, I learned from my students, I still learn from my students, the last class I taught three years ago, or whatever the year before COVID was right, I lost track of that. I learned so much from my students in that class was my best teaching experience ever. And I've been teaching for 20 years, right so so you know, it's just a you know, take advantage of that this is a beautiful place to be where you can just learn from everybody and everything around you here. learnings not just in the classroom. So hey, thank you all for having me. By the way, this is this was a treat. So and remember, you get what you pay for. So.

We appreciate you being on and like Ed said like yeah, we've learned a lot from me today. And and I think a lot of listeners and students and parents will, you know, be able to take your advice and if anything, no just how caring of a person you are inside the classroom and as provost for CSUSB so thank you so much, Dr. Mohamed for being on the podcast today.

Absolutely. My pleasure. So y'all take care.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai