By: Cristina Lombardo
Students walk into their next class, and if they’re early, they take out supplies. As the professor waits for class to officially start, she writes the agenda on the board. Once she sees that most of her students are in their seats, she asks how everyone is doing, and waits for someone to respond. College of the Canyons communications professor Lauren Rome understands this routine, because she used to be a student at COC.
Rome has known Santa Clarita for most of her life, coming here as a young child. Originally born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Santa Clarita has always felt like home to her.
“I really feel like I was born and raised in Southern California,” she said. “I’d lived in Santa Clarita since I was 2. So I’ve been here a long time.”
When she was in high school, all of Rome’s friends wanted to leave Santa Clarita, but she never wanted to. She never wanted to leave, and she spent a lot of time there.
When coming to COC as a student, Rome considered herself a transfer major, doing all the prerequisite and general education classes. She spent so much time there, she changed her major a few times before she found a love for communication studies. From transfer major studies to accounting, to psychology, she found communications through psychology. She really loved getting to know the psychology of people but never really thought that she would be a psychologist or a therapist.
“What I love so much about Psychology is I found more application and I found more of communication studies, to be more relateable,” she said. “Like I wasn’t necessarily going to be a therapist or a psychologist officially but I loved the dynamic of people so when I found communication studies I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is people, this is what I am meant to be studying and ultimately teaching.’”
As a student, Rome found it exciting. She spent most of her time on campus, and loved it because of the amount of freedom she had. So changing her major as many times as she did, she tried all sorts of things until she found her true love.
“I loved being a student here. Made it even more special when I came back to teach here,” she said.
Teaching at the same place she studied made her really appreciate how much the campus has improved. She had many resources available to her, which she now has as a faculty member, including the Communications Club.
The Communications Club centers around communication studies, doing different activities that get them thinking about communication. When she was a student, Rome had joined the club and loved talking to people to weigh in on different topics.
She wants to guide students and tell them to take advantage of the number of opportunities and help that is provided at COC. She was in the computer lab, most of her time, but when venturing out to other things she didn’t take advantage of that.
Rome is currently an adviser for the club and enjoys being back in that environment.
“It’s kind of really fun to just be back in that special community that they built because it’s just all students, and not all of them are communication majors (so) it’s been fun to just get to observe,” she said.
Though she does have some challenges being an adviser and mentor for the students, she feels that it’s a bit challenging holding back of what she wants to say because she also wants to take part in the conversation and guide it in a certain way. Instead, she stands her distance and lets the students figure it out in their own unique ways.
She constantly is willing to help though, and help students look through a new perspective through her teaching. One of the classes that she is teaching this semester is an intercultural class that talks about things like prejudice and discrimination based on one’s culture. She wants the students while taking that class to have an active role of having different perspectives when it comes to things that naturally occurs to oneself based off culture and culture biases.
“It’s okay that we have different views and so often the students in that class are saying that everyone needs to know this,” she said.
Rome also teaches one of the Fundamentals of Public Speaking classes. With the fundamentals of speaking, she said that it was important to have that skill of knowing how to communicate with others, so one would be able to understand how we can communicate with one another.
She always has a smile on her face while teaching. She continues to inspire students and make them feel more confident in their ability to publicly speak.
“I took Professor Rome in spring 2019 and I hated public speaking,” said COC student Jennifer Trejo. “(But) she puts out a great inviting atmosphere. She inspired me to speak on social topics that I am passionate about. I don’t hate public speaking and it’s all thanks to her.”
Even if it’s taking just one communications class in the future, or whether someone isn’t a communications major, Rome suggests to take one.
“Just taking any communication class alone is going to help you exponentially to just communicate more effectively in all capacities of your life,” she said.