Communications professor helps students overcome fears

Being 10,000 feet in the air, to the sight of a hairy, eight legged tarantula to speaking in front of a crowd of  people, these ideas define some of peoples greatest fears.

Helping students overcome the fear of public speaking, Communications Professor Bill Buchynski, has worked on LACCD campuses for 12 years, teaching for  20.

Wearing a plaid shirt, khaki pants and his hair in a ponytail, Buchynski’s exuberant personality shines through. Believing the class curriculum is to be enjoyed, Buchynski offers a relaxed, active learning environment where students are able to have a conversation with one another.

“It gets easier to get the point across about what effective communication, effective public speaking is all about,” Buchynski said.“ I’ve boiled it down to one sentence and that is to talk about something that is important to you. That you know something about and to be yourself while doing it. That’s the course in a nutshell.”

Buchynski believes that learning more about fear and facing it head on, the better it becomes. He said the more you are able to think critically about what the fear is, the easier it is to come to terms with it.

A Pierce student in his second semester, Jeremy Liebenthal, a former Communications 101 student of  Buchynski’s, credit’s the professor with helping him organize his thoughts prior to speaking publicly. Liebenthal says the class also “helped with [his] delivery.”

“He would give us feedback on the speeches that we gave and he would include what we should work on,”  Liebenthal said. “I remember being really happy that it wasn’t just general words like ‘you did a good job.’ It was really usable stuff like don’t slouch and stand straighter, don’t put your hands behind your back, don’t look up at the ceiling’ that kind of stuff.”

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Buchynski and his family relocated to Florida following his parent’s retirement. Buchynski’s fascination for electronics followed him as well, which he attributes to his interest in radio.

As a child, Buchynski and a friend tried to set up an intercom between their houses, with Buchynski trying to “figure out how to run a wire from his place to mine.”

“I got a tape recorder as a kid and we would record our farts and slow them down,” Buchynski said. “We’d record our belching and speed those up I think. The farts too probably.”

Buchynski went on to graduate from the University of South Florida, graduating with a degree in speech communications and Theater Arts. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he briefly worked at KROQ, volunteered at KCRW and eventually decided to go back to school, graduating from UCLA with a Masters Degree in Theater Arts.

Following UCLA, Buchynski became a limo driving before heading to North Carolina in 1989, where he began teaching English and public speaking at Isothermal Community College. Simultaneously, Buchynski  worked for WNCW, the school’s radio station, as a production coordinator announcer, teaching people how to talk on the radio while hosting his own radio show.

While at WNCW, Buchynski felt he was no longer getting satisfaction from the radio station and decided it was time to pursue other opportunities.

“We had so much freedom and diversity at the radio station I worked at,” Buchynski said. “There‘s a fine line between a groove and a rut and I felt like I was in a rut. It was just time to do something else.”

Feeling unsatisfied, Buchynski decided it was time to devote more attention to teaching. He went on to teach at Spartanburg Technical College in South Carolina, before returning to California.

A professor on the Pierce campus since 2004, Buchynski currently teaches at West Los Angeles College as well as Antelope Valley College, while continuing his work at Pierce.

Pierce student and former communications student, Daniella Farzam, 18, said she would recommend Buchynski to other students because he “creates a safe environment for everyone to learn.”

“From the very beginning the first thing he did was make sure were all comfortable with him,” Farzam said. “This made it easier to talk in front of the class and I believe it helped everyone improve.”

As he continues to teach, Buchynski  admits that he is continuing to grow as a professor. He said he learns “something about [himself] every semester.”

“I keep learning the importance of  being in the room with my students and being in the moment because that’s where its all happening and that’s where creativity is,” Buchynski said. “That’s where life is, in the here and now.”

Professor Buchynski offers students a creative learning environment where they are able to be themselves, to learn and to grow not only into an effective communicator but a success.

“I get much more satisfaction out of teaching than I ever did as a radio announcer,” Buchynski said. “The most rewarding part is when I actually see I’m making a difference in someone’s life, in terms of getting in touch with their own mastery of who they are.”