Mentor/Mentee KJ’s Outing

ESL faculty receives full-time position

By Jessica Breheny, SJCC English Faculty

Jessica Breheny and Zerrin Erkal
Jessica Breheny and Zerrin Erkal

It says a lot about the hard work faculty do when I say that Zerrin Erkal and I could not find a time in our busy schedules to meet off campus. Our planned relaxing outing to get to know each other and talk about the Union morphed into a post-teaching, post-meeting afternoon trip to KJ’s. Alas, this is faculty life in November. Yet a causal low-key coffee/tea date on campus is a nicely stress-free way to get to know a colleague.

Zerrin, though new to her full-time ESL faculty job, is not new to San Jose City College. She has taught part-time in ESL for 15 years, and I have always appreciated her presence and contributions at division meetings. Still, this is the first time that I ever had a chance to get to know Zerrin. She has an impressive educational background, with a bachelor’s in English from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul and a master’s in TESOL from Long Island University. Zerrin has also taught for many years, both at SJCC and at San Jose State University.

Over warm beverages on a rainy fall day, Zerrin and I talked about the importance of the Union. I shared my own experiences with the Union, all the times I received help and advice over the years, and the security I feel knowing that we have the Union behind us. I told Zerrin about my experiences coming to SJCC from a college without a strong union and the differences I saw when I got here. I encouraged Zerrin to get to know the Union leadership, to ask questions about the contract and bargaining, and told her how important I believe it is for all of us to be involved in the Union.

I am so glad that Zerrin and I were able to find a time to meet, and I am honored that the Union asked me to be her Union mentor.