The education experience is unique for everyone. It’s a path full of twists, turns and sometimes, even seemingly impassable roadblocks. Yuba College’s Liberty Harrison knows this all too well. At age 31, Liberty, who has dealt with severe dyslexia for most of her life, took a big step and began her college career at Yuba College. Like so many students, her previous school experience wasn’t the most positive, so she was understandably hesitant and nervous. That all changed the day she stepped foot on campus, and she pretty much hasn’t left since.
Today, Liberty is a part-time assistant professor with the general business department at Yuba College. She teaches entry-level courses that provide foundational computing skills. She is very candid with her students about her own education experience in hopes of relating to students like her, especially in a community with limited access to technology.
“I love teaching the beginning course because there are a lot of students in our area who don’t necessarily have the experience with computers they need,” Liberty said. “To see the progress they make is amazing. There’s something special about watching a student when the task clicks and that proverbial light bulb turns on.”
Like so many things, the COVID pandemic has posed a significant challenge for her students with limited access to computers and other technology needed to learn. While most of them have access to a college-issued device, the unique challenge becomes learning this hands-on material in a remote setting. In other words, it’s like learning how to use a computer while using a computer. For Liberty, this is just another challenge that she was ready to take head-on because she knows how vital her courses are for her students to succeed.
“I spend a lot of time on Zoom with my students, with one-on-one sessions six days a week. With my husband as my cameraman, I’ve created short how-to videos for our students that walk them through each step,” Liberty explained. “And yes, it is extra work, but it’s worth it so my students can get the most out of their courses. It’s also personal for me because I know what it’s like for education to leave you behind as a student. I don’t want that to happen to anyone else at all. So far, I haven’t had a student drop yet!”
This community has been a part of Liberty’s life for decades. Only living a few minutes away from the college for the past 30 years, Liberty and her husband, a local firefighter, are significantly invested in this community, always striving to give back however they can. She firmly believes that Yuba College has spearheaded the growth and the enrichment of the community.
“What I want students to know about Yuba College is the feeling of community. Our faculty is a part of the community and tries to give our students what they need,” Liberty said. “We are here to help them succeed and thrive. This work isn’t just a paycheck. It’s something so much more.”
Liberty’s caring spirit has been a welcoming presence in what at first can feel like a scary environment like college. It’s not hyperbole to say that her tireless devotion to her students has transformed her students’ lives. Here is just a snapshot of some of those lives.
“I have been in at least one of Professor Harrison’s classes every semester since I started college. She has always been available and more than willing to help with everything (and I do mean everything), not just with her classes. Without exaggeration, I can say I would have quit college a long time ago. Still, with her encouragement and support, I feel enabled and stronger. Professor Harrison is my secret weapon.”
“Mrs. Harrison is the bomb! I had her my first semester, and she has helped me along the way and kept me on track. Without Mrs. Harrison, I would have probably dropped out. She is amazing and cares about all her students and their success. She goes above and beyond to help her students succeed and does this while working full-time and a full-time student herself. She’s truly an inspiration!”
“Liberty is hands down one of the best instructors I’ve had while at Yuba College. On or off-campus, past or present student, she is willing to help and support you. That’s what makes her such a great instructor.”
Liberty’s educational path is not complete just yet. She plans to apply for her Ph.D., a challenge in its own rite. Like the many students she has influenced, we will all be here, ready to cheer her on.