BC professor honored with award
March 16, 2017
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Bakersfield College communication professor Bryan Hirayama was recently awarded the Western States Communication Association 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award.
The WSCA is the regional western states’ non-profit educational association of scholars, teachers, and students within the field of communication. The association publishes scholarly journals as well as hosts an annual convention that provides opportunities to learn and explore current issues in communication. Hirayama has been involved with the WSCA since his graduate years at Fresno State, as this is where graduate students present their research. According to the WSCA, the Distinguished Teaching Award is given to “deserving faculty members who have made a significant contribution to the quality of teaching in WSCA and the communication field institutions in the Western region.”
“I’m still shocked that I actually got the award,” said Hirayama. Faculty members must be nominated in order to be considered to receive the awards. This year, Hirayama traveled to Utah to both present workshops and receive his award.
Hirayama was nominated for the award by professor of communications at Arizona State University Dr. Bradley Adame, a longtime close colleague and friend. As a nominee, Hirayama had to submit documents, such as letters of recommendation and teaching evaluations. The WSCA then picked a recipient for the award based on abilities to “demonstrate teaching that rises above the craft of teaching and incites intellectual curiosity in students, [inspires] departmental colleagues and makes students aware of significant relationships between the academy and the world at large.”
Hirayama attended Fresno State to obtain his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He was highly involved as a teaching assistant during graduate school and since then knew that he wanted to work in the teaching field. After two years of teaching English and communication studies in Japan, Hirayama then became a part of Bakersfield College’s Delano campus faculty in 2010.
While at BC, Hirayama has taught a wide array of communication courses, such as public speaking, interpersonal, intercultural, and rhetoric and argumentation.
Hiryama’s favorite part about teaching at BC is the long-term connections he has made with students. He enjoys hearing back from old students and their plans. “When students succeed, we succeed,” explained Hirayama. “[I like] seeing them do the things they want to do, the way they want to do it, not the way their parents told them they had to do it.”
One of Hirayama’s past BC students, Kevin Anabeza, stated that he liked best when he would incorporate his experiences and stories into his teaching which made it relatable to students.
“He inspired me to go above and beyond my role as a student because he taught me self-confidence and with that I feel more comfortable talking in front of a crowd,” said Anabeza. “He taught us to get out of the comfort zone in a way that made us feel good, you know. I would recommend other students to take [his classes]. He’s badass!”
Hirayama is also involved with BC’s Delano campus Inmate Scholars Program; a program dedicated to provide educational opportunities to students who are currently incarcerated in local prisons and jails. The program currently sends faculty to Kern Valley State Prison, North Kern State Prison, and Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison in Corcoran. “I have the intention of going to all of our sites,” stated Hirayama.
When asked of his experiences within the Inmate Scholars Program, Hirayama stated, “I like all of it, to be quite honest. Just like our everyday students, they need someone to believe in them because maybe they are in an environment where people are not exactly standing in line to believe in them, unfortunately.”
Hirayama writes a blog for the program and their experiences. He mentioned that he admires the dedication inmate students put into the responsibilities of being a college student.
“I like being a part of the support group for them to be who they want to be,” stated Hirayama. “For most of them, that’s just [being] free.”