Kids, school and work: a balancing act

Distance Education Coordinator Wendy Bass sits with her laptop in her backyard in Valley Glen, Calif., on Oct. 15, 2020. Photo by Benjamin Hanson.

Many would consider raising three boys to be a full-time job.

Many would also consider getting a Ph.D to be a full-time job.

Distance Education Coordinator Wendy Bass managed to do both at the same time.

“My kids are used to the fact that I work a lot,” Bass said. “They are always supportive because they know that I love what I do. I think in general for any working parents, it’s hard to juggle it all, and one of my issues is always having better boundaries, like at night if I get an email I can’t go to sleep before I resolve it.”

Before Bass was the Distance Education Coordinator, she was getting her doctorate in educational psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and her master’s in childhood special education from California State University, Northridge. 

“I was working with children with AIDS, and I loved working with children with special needs,” Bass said. “I was debating, since I really loved physical therapy, to maybe get a degree in physical therapy. I went to send my transcript to a professor in physical therapy, they said it would take me five years because I didn’t have all the sciences, so I was like, oh I can get a Ph.D in that time.”

During her time getting a doctorate in physical therapy, Bass’s professor didn’t want her to study children with AIDS for her research.

“When I served my Ph.D, I did all my research on kids with cancer cause she felt it was a different variable,” Bass said. “Back then, I worked with kids with cancer that can reintegrate into school, so my dissertation topic is the friendship support that helps children with cancer return to the classroom.”

In her stages going forward with doing her research, she stumbled upon working online as Distance Education Coordinator for East Los Angeles College and for Pierce. 

“When I decided to go into distance ed, my husband was like, ‘Wait a second, that is a whole switch,’” Bass said. “I was teaching online when I was on maternity leave with my second son and I really kind of  liked it. I didn’t go to bed till she figured things out back then I was in ELAC.” 

Bass said the other DEA coordinator praised her decision making.

“I was sitting next to her and she asked me how I figured this out,” Bass said. “I’m just one of those people that can’t go to bed till I figure something out.”

Benny Ng, a chemistry professor and the distance education support specialist at Pierce, works with Bass to help teachers and staff. 

“When I first met Wendy she was really energetic, also really positive and engaging,” Ng said. “When you work around her, you’re like, OK. You want to work with this person. You just have this overpostive feeling.”

Librarian Clay Gediman met Bass when she was on his hiring committee. Gediman works with Bass to show students which classes use free textbooks.

“She has a lot of enthusiasm for everything,” Gediman said. “She gets interested in a lot of things and she is really encouraging toward things, and when you bring an idea to her she is like ‘Yeah, let’s work on that thing.’”

Bass was also a presenter for Best Practices in Teaching Online, How to Engage Online Learners and Encouraging Critical Thinking in Online Child Development courses. 

“I think that I had a lot of skill pretty well as a teacher I knew how to teach,” Bass said. “Teaching and presenting are really similar because you are learning how to speak in a crowd, so I think that would be why I love working with people.”