Page 1


Rachel Mouton: Full-time mom, full-time student Page 9


Wendy Lee: On raising Miss California Page 7

Miss California reaches for the crown Page 4

Former COM student Crystal Lee first runner-up in Miss America pageant

Photo by Alvaro Ponce


College of marin

Oct. 4 - Oct. 18, 2013


‘Streetcar’ makes stop on campus By Kyle Dang



Echo Times College of Marin Kentfield, California Phone: (415) 485-9690 Learning Resource Center Room LC 32 Editor-in-Chief: Kyle Dang Managing Editor: Nash Kurilko Copy Editor: Chelsea Dederick News Editor: R. J. Heckelman Feature Editor: Shirley Beaman Design Director: Chelsea Dederick Photo Editor: Sindy Smart Reporters: Brady Meyring Elisa Bryant Shirley Beaman Sophia DeFelice Rachel Mouton Roddy Heckelman David Lessin Kyle Dang Leslie Lee Advertising Manager: Irina Zhelokhovtseva Office Manager: Rachel Mouton Media Editor: Chelsea Dederick Faculty Adviser: Tom Graham Email us Marin Sun Printing prints the Echo Times using 40 percent recycled paper and 100 percent soy ink

ennesee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” has won two Tony awards, a Pulitzer prize, and is performed around the world. When it was written in 1948, it launched Williams’ career as a playwright. COM Director W. Allen Taylor will be bringing his vision of Williams’ classic to College of Marin’s James Dunn Theatre, October 4th through the 20th. “A Streetcar Named Desire” is a classic American tragedy that follows protagonist Blanche DuBois through her desperate search for a new future and a break from the past. Moving in with her sister, Blanche has to navigate a minefield of her own delusions, her sister’s overbearing husband, and the urban environment of post-World War II New Orleans. Taylor earned a master’s degree in acting from the American Conservatory Theatre. This will be Taylor’s 13th year teaching drama at COM. He has performed on Broadway, is a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild, and the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists. He’s acted on network television, and has performed on stage throughout the country. Elexa Poropudas portrays Blanche DuBois, and Stanley Kowalski is played by Adam Roy. The set designer for the production is

Adam Roy plays Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois is portrayed by Elexa Poropudas in the College of Marin’s latest production, “A Streetcar Named Desire,” which runs through October 20.

Photo courtesy of COM Drama Department

Ron Krempetz, and the costumer designer is Patricia Polen. Evening performances are scheduled for October 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19 at 8 p.m., and 2 p.m. matinee performances on the 13th and the 20th. There will be a Q&A with the director following the performance on the 13th.

Tickets are $10 for students, $15 for seniors, and $20 for general admission. The play will be staged at the College of Marin James Dunn Theatre on the Kentfield Campus. For tickets or more information, contact the box office at (415) 485-9385.

music and audio production school in San Francisco, where he received his training in audio engineering and music theory. Known now as DJ-GU, he has worked as a member of numerous bands for the past six years and as a professional studio guitarist since age 16. Roldan is working toward a bachelor’s degree in business and a minor in music so he can persue a career in teaching and one day open his own music school. Members of the club have different long-term goals in education as well as in the music industry, but they all share a passion for music and improving their talents while taking courses at COM. Tara’s goal working with the students this semester is to get them to a place where they feel comfortable performing live. He is interested in motivating each and every member of the club and hopes to helps them find what works for them and build on those talents in a professional way. “Finding your hum, your home with the rhythm, and how that harmony transmits the message you are trying

to convey — now that’s good music,” Tara said. He is coordinating with incumbent president of ASCOM Steven Petker to have live music and free food events on campus two days a month throughout the remainder of the school year. Tara is getting Music Club members ready so that sometime during this semester they can make a contribution to the live performances along with already established and known bands. “ASCOM is bringing life and fun back to our students and campuses,” Petker said. “We want all COM students to know more about who and what ASCOM is and to just have fun and enjoy being part of College of Marin.” The Music Club is hoping to recruit more members to join the club. If anyone is interested in joining, they can contact Vickie Lamke of student services or go to the COM Music Club’s Facebook page. The next live music event will be the Halloween Club Fest, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on October 31 in the Quad on the Kentfield campus.

The beat goes on for new music club By Elisa Bryant



here’s a new beat on campus and it’s called the Music Club. In years prior, the club on campus was called Media Arts and Music Alliance. They have not been active in over two years. College of Marin student Adan Roldan went to see Vickie Lamke, assistant director of Student Affairs, to ask where he could sign up for the Music Club. He was told that there was no club for music at that time. “I was disillusioned because I really wanted to be part of a Music Club to learn from others, but when I asked about the music club, Vickie said there wasn’t one and encouraged me that if I wanted one I should start it myself,” Roldan said. “Since I started, everything has just pretty much fallen into place... I’d like to see the Music Club be more than a one semester deal.” Jon Gudmundsson, who teaches Media and Arts, will be acting as adviser for the group and Nick Tara, COM alumni and music industry professional, has joined as a mentor and teacher. Tara has a degree from Pyramind, a



Oct. 4 - Oct. 18, 2013


Students commemorate 9/11 anniversary By Brady Meyring



ost 9/11 anniversaries are somber events. College of Marin’s recent ceremony was no exception. On an overcast morning, approximately 120 attendees gathered in front of the flag-pole by the Fine Arts Building. The Kentfield Fire Department and police forces from Fairfax, Ross and COM were also present. They came, in the words of college President David Wain Coon, “To honor those we lost and those that made sacrifices for our freedom.” The presentation of colors by the U.S. Army color guard, the playing of Taps and the raising of the flag represented the national mood of somber remembrance. However, the day was also marked by a spirit of celebration for the roughly 100 student veterans currently enrolled at COM. To many of those in attendance, it wasn’t just a time for looking back at an historical event but also to consider in the present those that have contributed to our public safety. This attitude was captured by onlooker Tim Busy, an employee with the Marin County Office of Education. “I think it’s so important for us to remember the sacrifice and the tragedy that touched all of us, and pay tribute to that and remember that in ways that strengthen our community,” he said. The main event following the 9/11 memorial was the Veteran’s Student Center reception and open house. The center, located on the ground floor of the Student Services Building, provides a place for student-veterans to study, socialize and learn about resources and benefits available to them. It was opened last year with funding from the Associated Students at College of Marin, the College of Marin Foundation and private donors such as the

Photo by Jason Lau Barbara Bochner, president of Blue Star Moms of Marin, and Craig Wheeler, president of COM’s Veteran’s Association, present a $500 check to President David Wain Coon for the Kentfield Campus Veteran’s Services Center.

Blue Star Moms of Marin and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. At the reception two tables of fingerfoods in the cafeteria were quickly devoured while students and community members mingled and showed their solidarity with COM veterans. “I think that when people have served their country and they come back and are going to school, or whatever they’re doing, I think we should support them,” said Barbara Bochner, president of Blue Star Moms of Marin. This sentiment was clearly felt by the student-veterans in attendance. “It was amazing. We had a fantastic turnout,” said Craig Wheeler, president of the COM Veteran’s Association. COM student veterans are much like other students on campus, often looking for a quiet place to study or a comfortable

College of Marin mourns loss of Marshall Northcott

By Elisa Bryant ECHO TIMES


arshall Northcott, director of Technology Information at the College of Marin, passed away July 6 from cancer. He was 60. At the time of his death he and his wife, Linda, were residents of Hayward. After a five-week battle with cancer, he died peacefully in his home, his wife said. Born on Nov. 8, 1952 in Trenton, New Jersey, his family moved to Hawaii when he was eight. Later the family moved to Dover, Delaware, where he attended junior high and high school. Mr. Northcott graduated from Lockhaven State College, Pennsylvania, with a joint degree in math and computer science, and then attended graduate school at the University of Delaware, where he majored in mathematics. Mr. Northcott married his wife, Linda,

in 1985, in the Mills College Chapel in Oakland. During his nearly 40-year career in information technology, he worked Marshall Northcott at Swarthmore College, Mills College, Hawaii Pacific University, and College of Marin. Mr. Northcott was a dedicated husband and father who enjoyed the outdoors, traveling, and spending time with his large extended family. He is survived by his wife, Linda, their daughter Celeste Hill and step-daughter Tonya Craig. College of Marin has appointed Jackie Barretta as interim director of Information Technology.

couch to relax on, both of which the Veteran’s Center provides. However, because of their experience in the military they are also a uniquely different group. Having fellow veterans to relate to on campus is important. According to Jon

Pupp, a veteran, the Center is “a really good place to meet other veterans in the area. We’re not exactly saturated with veterans in Marin County.” All students have to make adjustments to be successful in college. For veterans, however, adapting to the new lifestyle can be more difficult than for those entering COM directly from high school. “One of the biggest challenges that face veteran students at COM, veteran students everywhere for that matter, is the transition from military life to civilian life and all the challenges that go along with that,” said Wheeler. “You come from a setting where you have someone telling you what to do and when to do it all the time. There’s no question as to where you’re supposed to be and what you’re supposed to be doing. And then these young veterans get out and they have all this newfound freedom and it’s so different from what they’ve been experiencing.” Fortunately, COM student-veterans now have an easily accessible resource to turn to for assistance with these issues. Even though the Veteran’s Center is relatively new, it has already made a positive impact on many students’ lives and looks to continue doing so for many years to come.


College of marin

Oct. 4 - Oct. 18, 2013


Photo by Bruce V. Boyajian / Courtesy of the Miss America Organization Crystal Lee, Miss California (second from left), stands beside Miss America after the pageant, which was held on September 15 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Almost Miss America

COM alumna, Miss California, selected first runner-up


The genuine good will between the two finalists and their families is apparent.

By Sophia DeFelice ECHO TIMES

hey stand face-to-face, hands held tight, tensions mounting. Miss America 2014 is about to be crowned. The two finalists for America’s premier pageant hug each other. And whisper in each other’s ear. Miss California wears an elegant longsleeved, full-length lilac evening gown. Her silver studded cuffs sparkle. Miss New York wears a bright yellow evening gown with a plunging V neckline. They appear to be best friends. The TV camera pans to the audience, where both sets of parents stand anxiously next to one another. Chris Harrison, who also hosts “The Bachelor,” explains to viewers that the first runner up receives a $25,000 scholarship. And should anything happen to Miss America, the first runner up would carry out her duties. Moments later, Harrison announces the winner – Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, the second year in a row that a

Photo by Dirk Wunderlich Miss California, Crystal Lee, was first runner up in this year’s Miss America pageant.

contestant from the Empire State has won the competition. The first runner-up is Miss Cali-fornia, Crystal Lee, a former College of Marin student and Stanford graduate. She’s also the daughter of Wendy Lee, an IT staff member here for 23 years. As Crystal and Nina react to the news, the camera pans once again to their parents – the mothers of Miss California and Miss America hug and the dads shake hands.

The week prior to the nationally televised event is intense. The contestants compete for 15 finalist positions. And then there are the demanding rehearsals and publicity events. The competition is fierce. “People don’t realize there really isn’t that much cattiness,” Crystal explains. “Behind the scenes there isn’t that much drama. At that level you get some really great young women who are just as beautiful on the inside as they are on the out-side.” That’s the whole point of the interview process, she says. “You not only find someone articulate and smart, but also someone who gives you a feeling of good character. Nina will do a great job as Miss America.” Crystal was born in San Francisco on August 2, 1991, to Wellman and Wendy Lee. Her mom, Wendy, a system support technician in the Information Technology department here, immigrated in 1981 to the

United States from Taiwan. Her dad, Wellman, was born and raised in San Francisco’s Chinatown. He owned his own optical lab and manufactured eyeglasses for more than 30 years until last year. The couple has been married for 34 years. “I am the product of the quintessential American dream,” says the 22-yearold Miss California. Her mother’s immigration experience left a particularly strong impression on Crystal. “Immigrants come here and start fresh. Often having nothing but their willingness to work hard, and a tenacity to make it… To raise their children, and make a life for themselves. The whole of idea of being American is different depending on who you ask. But it is important to remember the United States is built on the backs of im-migrants.” Crystal is aware of how hard her parents worked and sacrificed to provide for the family. “I didn’t have everything I wanted growing up,” Miss California says. “Little


Oct. 4 - Oct. 18, 2013


Features things informed me that certain people had things I didn’t. At times, I felt sorry for myself. In retrospect, though, it’s a blessing to come from a modest background, because then the sky is the limit. I didn’t grow up with a silver spoon in my mouth.” Crystal was uncertain about what she wanted to be as a young child. “It would change from week to week. One day I would wake up and want to be a ballet dancer. Another day a teacher. Another day an astronaut, or a pilot. Another day an inventor,” she says. It had to do a lot with the role models around her. “I still want to be an inventor. I want to create jobs,” says Miss California. One of her goals is to run her own tech company. According to her mom, Crystal’s involvement in pageants was not intentional. “As a child Crystal was more of a tomboy. She liked to perform Tai Chi and Mulan fighters. She was always active, always moving. When we walked down the street, Crystal would take some steps and then do a cartwheel. She would repeat that process again and again. Cartwheels right there on the sidewalk!” That’s when Wendy decided it was time to channel some of that energy. She enrolled Crystal in ballet classes when she was 4. A dozen and a half years later her daughter would dance an en pointe to “The Swan” for the talent competition in Miss America. Crystal attended high school at the San Francisco School of the Arts from 2005 to 2009. Her younger sister, Jasmine went there, too. In the summer of 2006, Crystal attended a summer dance workshop taught by a COM instructor, Sandi Weldon. The class included hip-hop, ballroom dance, jazz and tap dance. “Although Crystal was the youngest student in the class, her demeanor was very mature,” Weldon recalls. “She worked well with the other students who were all ages – teens, adults and even some seniors. We performed a recital of all of our dances on the last week of the course. While some of the older students were nervous or unprepared, Crystal was always calm, prepared, professional and a joy to work with.” In 2008, while still in high school, Crystal took summer classes in Ballet and Statistics at COM’s Kentfield campus. She found the community college experience rewarding and describes the College of Marin as “a Bay Area gem.” And she’s proud that her mom works here. “I am so grateful for mom’s job at the College of Marin,” she told The Echo Times. “It is common for people in the IT industry to constantly change companies. The fact that mom had a stable job allowed her to support me in all my extra-curricular activities, allowed her to come home after work and spend time with me and my sister. I never had to worry about our needs being met. That stability played a large role

in the woman I am now.” Her dad, Wellman Lee, encourages Crystal and her younger sister, Jasmine, to do what makes them happy. “He was not always aware of who needed to be where while the girls were growing up,” Wendy Lee says with a smile. “But he was supportive. I could not do it all by myself.” Miss California knows the importance of hard work – not only in her personal life, but in providing community service and giving back. And she’s not a prima donna. “When Crystal came home from

always feel better afterwards,” she says. She loves watching movies, especially Zombie movies. But she doesn’t have much time to watch TV these days, and she doesn’t own one. One of her favorites authors is EnglishCanadian journalist and bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell (“Outliers: The Story of Success”). “I tend to read non-fiction and howto books over fiction,” she says. “I liked ‘Getting to Yes’ (a guide to the art of negotiating).” Her favorite food is sushi and sashimi. Favorite desserts: bread pudding, cake

Failures lead to success. You improve as you go along. It took me three tries to become Miss California. People see me as a beauty queen... [but] that’s what they see on the outside. Deep down there’s a lot of pushing, perseverance, and grit.” – Crystal Lee, Miss California

Stanford during breaks,” her mother recalls, “she cleaned up the kitchen and bathrooms and did chores for me.” And to keep fit, she’d even jog in the rain. Long before she got the Miss California title, she considered herself “a California girl.” The 5-foot-8 beauty queen, who maintains her weight at 125 to 130 pounds, thinks of herself as the girl next door. “I love camping, backpacking and the outdoors,” Crystal says. “People don’t picture me with a backpack, but I love hiking.” To stay fit, she does Pilates and takes ballet. When she’s too busy to go to the gym, she goes on YouTube and puts on a home fitness workout and exercises in her room. “It comes down to just doing it. You

and croissants. Her favorite types of music: pop, jazz and ambiance music. Her favorite color is obvious to anyone who saw her compete in the Miss California and Miss America pageants. Her gown – worn in two competitions – was lilac, a shade of her favorite color, purple. Crystal’s heroines include some powerful women. Marissa Mayer, CEO at Yahoo. Barbara Corcoran, an American businesswoman, investor, consultant, syndicated columnist, author, TV personality and “Shark Tank” judge, whom Crystal regards as “witty and shrewd.” And Sheryl Sandberg, author of “Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead.” “And, of course, my mom is my everyday hero,” Crystal says. Every person’s parents should be their heroes. And my mom is mine. She’s the world to me. She’s given me everything, I’d have

Photo by Bruce V. Boyajian / Courtesy of the Miss America Organization Miss California kicks up her heels during a parade in Atlantic City, New Jersey, days before the nationally televised Miss America contest.

nothing without her.” She says she’s very proud of her younger sister, Jasmine, who is a student at U.C. Berkeley. “I’m excited to see what she does after her schooling.” Crystal was 16 when she entered her first pageant and won a $3,000 scholarship as San Francisco’s Miss Teen Chinatown in 2007. The competition involved the typical talent, gown, and a one-minute unrehearsed response to a question. Her mother realized then that Crystal could maintain her poise under pressure and speak convincingly in front of an audience. Gowns, tiaras, sashes, public speaking engagements and public service soon replaced her tomboy ways. There would be many more crowning achievements. It was the beginning of her journey to Atlantic City’s Miss America pageant. In 2008, Crystal became Miss California’s Outstanding Teen. In 2010, she won Miss Chinatown. In 2011, Miss San Francisco. In 2013, she cashed in another chip: Miss Silicon Valley. Later that same year, this California girl became Miss California. And in 2014, she was the 1st runnerup in the Miss America pageant – the last one standing on stage with Miss New York – the final two contestants vying for the title. Although she didn’t win, she hopes to continue to inspire young girls to work hard to achieve their goals. Her platform as Miss California this year is to encourage young girls to excel in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STEM for short. It was in these male-dominated fields that her mother carved out her own niche. “Getting into Stanford was my most rewarding accomplishment,” says Miss California, who completed her B.S. degree in Human Biology, and her master’s in Communications and Media Studies in four years. Scholarship money from pageant competitions allowed her to pursue her dreams at one of the best and most expensive institutions of higher education in the country. Through it all she continued to study ballet professionally and travel. In 2010, while still enrolled at Stanford, she flew to the coastal city of Jiang Men in China to compete in the Miss Chinese International Pageant. Crystal, who speaks Mandarin and Cantonese, competed with 10,000 contestants. That’s not a typo. Nonetheless, in four days they narrowed the contestants down to 26 finalists. With odds of 10,000 to 1, Crystal was chosen 1st runner-up. Lauren Smolka, a friend and fellow pageant competitor, met Crystal at the 2011 Miss California competi-tion in Fresno. Crystal was competing as Miss Silicon Valley at the time, while Smolka was representing Hollywood. “Crystal came up and said, I heard a lot about you. I think you’re gorgeous,” Continued on next page


College of marin

Oct. 4 - Oct. 18, 2013


Photos by Bruce V. Boyajian / Courtesy of Miss America Organization Crystal Lee performs a ballet en point to ‘The Swan’ during the recent Miss America pageant.

Lee’s rigid exercise regime paid off during the lifestyle, fitness and swimsuit competition.

Crystal Lee, Miss California, and Nina Davuluri, Miss New York, await the announcement for the new Miss America.

One step away from Miss America Miss California: From previous page

Smolka recalls. When the former COM student won this year’s Miss California title, Smolka says Crystal deserved to win. Later, when Jovani Dress Designers contacted Smolka for a modeling assignment, she was excited to learn Crystal would be modeling for them, too. The two women got to know each other on a deeper level and were able to bond during the week they spent modeling in Atlanta. “It was great. Crystal is one of the most incredible people, I’ve ever met,” Smolka says. As Crystal was preparing to leave for the Miss America Pageant in September, her friend gave her a black tote bag filled with essentials and goodies for the trip. The one word that best describes her, Crystal says, is “grit.” “Failures lead to success. You improve as you go along. It took me three tries to become Miss California. As much as people see me as a beauty queen and congratulate me on my successes, that’s what they see on the outside. Deep down there’s a lot of pushing and a lot of perseverance, a lot of grit. That will carry me for many years to come.” Although a lot of men tune in to the Miss America pageant for the swimsuit competition, it is considered the most conservative “beauty” pageant. It wasn’t until 1997 that the two-piece swimsuit competition was introduced to the pageant. That year a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist quipped, “The nation is finally going to get to contemplate the contestants’ navels. I can’t wait. “Some women are bound to greet the news with a huff of scorn,” the columnist

Lee, a former student here, graduated from Stanford with B.S. and master’s degrees.

wrote. “They’ll say all it does is expose a teeny-weeny bit more of the pageant’s hypocrisy. They’ve always believed it was a blatant babe-a-thon.” The Miss America Pageant continues to grapple with that stereotype. Although the Miss America Organization claims they want to show women with depth and range, the swimsuit competition, which counts for 20 percent of a contestant’s final score, continues to be a point of controversy. “I think pageants are very feminist. I’m a feminist,” says Crystal. “I take advantage of the fact I can go on stage in a swimsuit and that I have the choice to be able to do so. “Everyone tries to look as slim as possible for the telecast,” she recently told the Echo Times. “Each contestant exercises intensely for the pageant. The camera adds 10 pounds. I expect to gain weight in the next few weeks. I know it’s going

to happen. I’m comfortable with that. The two-piece shows all the hard work we put in, all the sit-ups, all the weight training. Might as well flaunt all the hard work.” Concerned about the way young girls are pressured by the media to look thin, Crystal recalls her teen years. “Appearance is important. It’s so intricately tied into your self-esteem. To be totally honest with you, I put more effort into how I looked in middle school than I do now… In middle school, looks were incredibly important, which ties into insecurity… often as a result of media messages.” Between her junior and sophomore years in college, Crystal met her boyfriend, a Stanford Political Science major, and things began to change. “I started worrying less about how I looked and caring more about my future in terms of what I needed to know,” the former COM student says. “It’s not how you look, it’s what you know.” Crystal has worked hard at both. “Now,” she says, “two years later, I could definitely say I’ve become more confident because he is in my life. “People ask him, ‘how does it feel to be dating Miss California? Are you Mr. California?’ “He responds, ‘I’m dating Crystal, first and foremost. Miss California is a part it. I love her for who she is, even if she never won a pageant in her life.’ “When I take my make-up off he says ‘welcome back’ in a really cute way,” Crystal says. “He’s a great guy. I encourage all women out there to go for someone who adds value to your life – someone you want to spend time with because he makes you feel good about yourself. I love my boyfriend because he brings out the best

in me.” A week after the Miss America pageant, Crystal reflects on how close she came winning. “Once you are in the top two it’s just a blessing to be there. It’s a win-win. Part of me still wants the job of Miss America. But, you just have to let go and let God. There is a reason behind everything that happens. America saw me do my thing on TV, but the judges in the end made the decision. I’m happy. “I plan to live the rest of my life as an ambassador of the Miss America scholarship program,” Miss California says. Crystal returned home to California in mid-September with a $30,000 in prizes – a $5,000 STEM scholarship, which supports her platform, and $25,000 for winning 1st runner-up. For Crystal it is clear. “The more academic achievements and good will service we do, the more people realize Miss America is a scholar-ship program. “If I leave this world knowing that there are more women in the science, technology, engineering and math fields, it’s a legacy I’d be happy to leave. Women should know there are opportunities out there, they just need to grab them.” In the mean time, Crystal continues to fulfill her duties as a spokeswoman for the Miss California Organization, and its sponsor, the American Pistachio Growers. Last year, Miss California traveled abroad with them. “It’s a big job,” Crystal says. “I represent the melting pot that is our nation, and I am very proud. I’m going to be the face of the program for the next 10 months. “I’m really excited. There’s no better state to come home to after Miss America. The rest remains unwritten.”

Oct. 4 - Oct. 18, 2013




Miss California’s inspiration: IT’s Wendy Lee, mom extraordinaire By Shirley Beaman ECHO TIMES


he flashes two thumbs up when she

knows her daughter has nailed a performance. It’s the special “signal” longtime College of Marin employee Wendy Lee gives her daughter, Crystal Lee, current Miss California and runner up to Miss America 2014.   “It has become something Crystal looks for when she’s onstage,” says Wendy.  “She always looks for me in the audience, she always knows where I am.” It’s the kind of support you would expect from a mother who was named after two pageant queens in Taiwan, where Wendy Lee was born.  Her Chinese name, given to her by her father, is derived from the names of two women who were “beautiful on the inside and the outside.” It would prove to be a harbinger for Crystal’s success in the beauty pageant arena.   Crystal Lee is the type of beauty that stands out in a crowd, evident by her many pageant honors: Miss Teen Chinatown, Miss Silicon Valley, Miss California, and First Runner Up to the current Miss America. Her mother Wendy is also a standout who remembers being the only woman in the male-dominated IT department at College of Marin for years. At one point she thought, “I have been the only woman for quite a long time… but it’s getting better.” Perhaps being the only daughter out of four siblings prepared her well for that. Two of her brothers reside in Taiwan.  The third is the chair of the Industrial Engineering Department at Louisiana Tech University.  It’s easy to see why Crystal’s platform at the Miss America Pageant was women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.) Apparently the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree. Besides being very good with computers and IT, before her career at COM, Wendy was a dancer/performer — a talent her daughter also possesses. In 1981, when she was 20, Wendy came to the United States from her native Taiwan, as part of a youth ambassador group of performers. They toured and performed ballet as well as Chinese modern dances at various colleges and local government venues on the East Coast.  She could have become a professional dancer, but instead, to the surprise of some, developed her talent for computers. Wendy was hired in 1990 by COM, originally as a programmer analyst on the Kentfield campus. In the summer of 2006, she moved from Kentfield to the Indian Valley campus. When she returned to Kentfield this summer with her IT department, she was excited about moving into the new Science, Math and Nursing building.  

Photo courtesy of Wendy Lee Miss California, Crystal Lee, who became the first runner up in the recent Miss America pageant, made numerous television appearances with her mom, Wendy Lee.

“It feels good to move back to graduating, she was hired as a systems Kentfield, working with the faculty and support technician at College of Marin and staff here again, and to see students has been here since. Wendy characterizes her family as studying hard in science, math, geology, chemistry, and biology labs. It’s the new typically American. Home is described as a energy all about education that matters,” “fusion of Chinese and American culture.” Both Crystal and her sister Jasmine Wendy says. Miss California’s mom likes the learned to speak Mandarin. The girls had fish and a turtle for idea that the beauty pets growing up. pageants her daughter The family has has entered support hosted exchange young women being students in their multi-faceted. She home. thinks it’s great At Presidio that pageants are Middle School, an opportunity for where the Lees still young women to earn keep in touch with scholarship money to some of the teachers, further their academic Wendy and Wellman goals. were members of “Crystal’s focus the PTA for nine is on the scholarship aspect,” her mom – Wendy Lee, Miss California’s mom years. During this year’s Miss America says. Pageant,ABC Wendy decided to pursue her education in the United aired footage of a 9-year-old Crystal Lee States.  It was then that she caught the performing a swan dance in her school eye of Wellman Lee, her husband, around talent show. The Lees stressed education, family the same time she graduated from Golden values, being generous, and treasuring Gate University. Wendy and Wellman, also Chinese, friendships in their household. When Crystal was 15 years old but born and raised in the U.S., would wed and have two daughters: Crystal, an and entered her first pageant, Miss Teen accomplished Stanford graduate, and her Chinatown, her mother was interested younger sister, Jasmine, who is 19 and in the fact that the pageant had a GPA requirement. For her talent, Crystal currently a student at U.C. Berkeley.    Prior to that, Wendy finished basic choreographed and performed her own courses at San Jose State University, ballet to modern music in which she before transferring her major to computers transformed into a butterfly.  Wendy made and attending Golden Gate University, the butterfly wings for her daughter’s where she worked at the computer lab costume. Of Crystal’s initial involvement in and completed her master’s degree at the same time. In 1990, immediately after pageants, Wendy says, “I could not push

Crystal knows she can trust me... I will stand by her, and rescue her if she needs it. In return, she’s respectful and she listens to me.”

her to do it… The first time they invited us to compete, I said, ‘OK, let’s try it.’ We cannot force children to do something they have no passion for.”             Wendy also helped create her daughter’s stunning costume that she donned during the talent portion of the Miss America competition, attaching all the feathers and rhinestones herself, by hand. She also designed a custom headpiece for Crystal’s performance – skills she credits to her own performing arts background. Wendy knew that her daughter was a performer: “When Crystal was around two years old and barely walking, I said, ‘Let Mommy take a photo,’ and I was so surprised when she did the splits and put her two hands up in the air [in a ballet-like pose.] I thought, where was this from? And then I knew…” Years later, Crystal attended the San Francisco School of the Arts where she developed her dance abilities. Here, her mother says, she would learn discipline, which was reinforced in the Lee home. It was the type of discipline that would assist her in succeeding at a school like Stanford, where Crystal would later earn a master’s in communication and a bachelor’s in human biology. Ballet was a Monday through Sunday affair. On top of that, Crystal studied Russian and Chinese dance.  Wendy spent a lot of time backstage and in the audience with her husband Wellman, in support of their daughter.   “No other sight can make me tear up like seeing my parents waving at me from the audience,” Crystal says. They have also spent countless hours behind the wheel of the family car, driving Crystal to and from her many rehearsals and performances, as well as school. Throughout it all, Wendy has encouraged Crystal to “Enjoy your process and do your best!” Being a pageant mother can be nerve-wracking, but Wendy says she strives not to be a pushy mother.  She stresses the importance of being patient and understanding.  Trust is key.   “Crystal knows she can trust me... I will stand by her, and rescue her if she needs it. In return, she’s respectful and she listens to me.” Wendy says her husband’s personality and love of travel with his family has brought a good balance to their teamwork of raising their two daughters.  She is confident that her children had a happy childhood. “When they need me, it’s time to tweak them in the right direction. Your children respect you for a reason,” she says. Wendy draws a triangle on a piece of paper and writes three words: “children,” “parents” and “community.” Without the Continued on next page


College of marin

Oct. 4 - Oct. 18, 2013


Miss California and her mom have roots here Wendy Lee: From previous page

support of parents and community, children cannot succeed, she says. It takes a village. She believes that every part of the triangle is crucial and that without each, the delta is not complete. She stresses the value of education and community. For instance, she says her co-workers helped influence her daughter’s success. Ira Lansing, who was Crystal’s Statistics teacher here at COM, was exceptional and made a big impact. So did Jonathan Eldridge, COM’s vice president of Student Services. There were many others. “Wendy and her family are some of the best people in the world,” says Michelle Mouser, a family friend who accompanied the Lees to the Miss America Pageant this year.    As Executive Director of the Miss Marin Scholarship program, Mouser is well acquainted with the pageant scene. Upon returning home to San Francisco from the Miss America Pageant, Mouser

Photo by Sindy Smart Wendy Lee, Miss California’s mother, is a System Support Technician in the Information Technology Department on the Kentfield Campus.

says Crystal was surrounded by reporters at the airport. Immediately after Crystal finished her interviews, the first thing she did was walk

over to her mother and give her a big hug. Mouser describes Wendy as being the opposite of the stereotypical pageant/stage mother who is seen as overbearing.

“Wendy Lee is constant. She stands back and allows Crystal to shine – but she holds the flashlight.”

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The Echo Times is looking for students interested in recording interviews and footage of events on campus, which can be featured on our blog. You may use our equipment or your own. Please contact us through our “Letters to the Editor” page on our website,

Oct. 4 - Oct. 18, 2013




Single mom balances school and work By Rachel Mouton



eing a single parent and a full-time student is not easy. There is so much juggling required. At times, it’s overwhelming. I have three boys – a 7-year old, a 2-year old and a 6-month-old. I’m also a full-time student here. I work two part-time jobs on and off campus. In a way, I’m lucky. I have my own place, a car to get to and from work, my oldest is in school, and I’ve got daycare for my two youngest. But sometimes it’s First person hard to keep up with bills when there is only one income. I made the decision to attend College of Marin to better myself and get my degree for the sake of my children. I felt I needed something behind my name to separate me from people who are willing to work $8-an-hour jobs without a degree. I always remind my oldest son, “If you start something, finish it!” Now I’m officially enrolled in school, and I’m excited as ever to finish. It’s a fresh start.

Photos by Sindy Smart Rachel Mouton, a business major at College of Marin, has her hands full with three boys between the ages of seven months and seven years.

I always remind my oldest son, “If you start something, finish it!” Now I’m officially enrolled in school, and I’m excited as ever to finish.” Since I am a single mother I have been provided with resources on campus to help me further my education and career at College of Marin. I know at times not everything will run smoothly, but the people that have been helping me, from teachers to counselors to students, have become my support system. The staff are friendly and make me feel welcome and good about myself. They make me feel like I can achieve, and I know that I will. I found out about a program on campus called Extended Opportunity Programs and Services. It provides resources to help me and others through college. I’m lucky to have access to this resource because my two jobs alone can’t even buy the books that I need for this semester, and that’s where EOPS steps in. EOPS also helps me with transportation costs, childcare, tutoring and so much more. All I had to do was apply. As a single mother juggling school, work, and children, I have been trying to stay on top of things. I write a to-do list every week and schedule time to spend with my children, doing homework and other activities. Everyone is in bed no later

Between school and home, the author is carrying more than a full load.

than 8:30 and then I have some time to myself to clean and do homework. At first it was hard balancing school and home life. I would have to leave classes early to pick up my youngest two from daycare because I was only entitled to so many hours. But I’m getting everything on a smooth path and excited for the current and coming semesters. I’m happy for the opportunity to go back to school and experience a new campus. This is my second go around with college and being a single parent. I am not going to let this opportunity pass me up. I’m willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to finally accomplish my goal, not only for myself, but for my children. I thank my counselors for helping me with

Rachel’s seven-month-old, Cameron, enjoys some face time with mom at San Rafael’s Civic Center Lagoon Park, where they frequent the playground and feed the ducks.

my educational plan, because before coming back to school I felt discouraged and unsure of myself. Now I feel confident and like I can achieve anything. Besides being solely a scholastic student at COM, I’m hoping to try out for the woman’s basketball team in

the coming semesters. Being at the College of Marin and being productive has helped me to do better as both a person and a parent. I’m looking forward to my continuing education, and to the better life that it promises.


College of marin

Oct. 4 - Oct. 18, 2013

News Feature

Uncertain future looms over campus bookstore By Leslie Lee



any instructors advise students to shop around for the best deal on their textbooks. “You can get the textbook for this class at the college bookstore for about $113.00, but you will probably be able to get it cheaper on Amazon,” said one professor. Despite the fact that Barnes and Noble owns the Kentfield campus bookstore, their website is selling the same book for 22 percent less than the college bookstore. The school’s board of trustees has expressed concern about our bookstore’s inability to compete in the marketplace. Barnes and Noble has been leasing COM’s bookstore for 26 years. The trustees have extended the lease for another year. “Extending the lease on an annual basis allows for flexibility in adjusting the commission structure,” says Jonathan Eldridge, Vice President of Student Services. The more money the College of Marin bookstore makes in sales, the higher the commission for Barnes and Noble, which might explain why their college bookstore price is 22 percent more. For the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the bookstore commission is .5 percent of

sales, up to $1.7 million. It increases to 1 percent of sales over $1.7 million, and to 2 percent for sales over $2 million. Three different community college bookstores had three different prices for the same book – one at the publisher’s list price, one below the list price, and the third more than the list price. The College of Marin bookstore priced the book at the suggested list price ($113.33). Diablo Valley College’s bookstore priced the book at $97.60. Ohlone’s bookstore priced the book at $117.00. The Follet Higher Education Group, which owns Ohlone’s bookstore, also owns 940 college bookstores nationwide. A retail clerk there said that if the Follet Education Group did not own the textbook, then it was priced higher. Bill Foster, bookstore manager at Diable Valley, did an independent survey of college textbooks in the Bay Area that revealed textbook prices at Diablo Valley College are lower overall. Foster explains: “We are institutionally owned. We keep 100 percent of the profits. All the money is kept at the col-

lege, and all the money spent stays within the county, as opposed to Barnes and Noble where the profits are sent back to their headquarters in New Jersey.” While it is true that a student can buy textbooks at a lower price than at a brickand-mortar retail store on websites such as Amazon or, and even Barnes and Noble’s website, there is a case to be made for keeping a college bookstore on campus. Foster said students need textbooks to succeed in their classes, and that it’s vital for students to buy the correct textbook. Moreover, with a brickand-mortar store, the student can quickly and readily return books immediately if they accidently buy the wrong book, or if they switch classes. Brianna Russo-Williams, a student here, said she likes the personal interaction she receives from the College of Marin bookstore staff. “The people at the bookstore really know their stuff. They give students information about book requirements for courses, they tell them roughly when the books will be in stock and they know about other items a student might need for their

classes, such as Scantrons and green books for writing essays,” she said. Russo-Williams likes the Kentfield campus bookstore not only for the friendly and supportive staff, but because it’s a convenient place to buy snacks and drinks when she is in a rush in between classes and the lines at the cafeteria are too long. The pressure to change, however, is strong. Quarterly earnings reports for Barnes and Noble show a third-quarter loss in every area except for college textbooks. Analysts predict that Barnes and Noble is following the same rocky path as Borders Books. The future of Barnes and Noble, both on campus and off, is uncertain. The governing board of the College of Marin is aware of the situation and has expressed interest in soliciting student input to help determine the future of the College of Marin bookstore. COM’s Board of Trustees minutes for May 21 reveal that the board is considering other options: “There was discussion that we should research other options moving forward, as this is no longer a competitive market. Seeking student input and thinking outside the box will be the most effective way to approach this issue in the future.”



Oct. 4 - Oct. 18, 2013


Gallery design class prepares new exhibit By David Lessin



tudents in Christopher West’s Art Gallery Design and Management classes are playing a critical role in the preparation, installation and management of the world premiere of a new brand exhibit, The Intimate Diebenkorn: Works on Paper 1949–1992. This exhibit showcases the early work and evolution of American painter and master artist Richard Diebenkorn (19221992). Diebenkorn was an artist, educator, and UCLA professor who spent most of his life in California. Each period of his work the Ocean Park period, the Berkeley period and the Healdsburg period - were heavily influenced by his California environment. “Richard Diebenkorn is arguably the greatest painter that America has produced,” said Chester Arnold, an artist, painting instructor, and chair of the Fine Arts Department and curator of the exhibit. “It is impossible not to have been exposed to him as a painter and artist if you went to any art school in America in the last 30 years.” Arnold searched through hundreds of drawings, sketches and paintings at the Diebenkorn Foundation archives in Berkeley and selected these previously unseen works to encourage students in their own development as artists. Mr. Diebenkorn’s work can also be seen in some of the most prestigious museums in the world, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, the de Young Museum and SFMOMA. And this morning, I am making my way through the various construction zones, detours and orange plastic fencing on campus, and toward the Fine Arts Gallery where the Art Gallery Design and Management students are preparing the exhibit of the world-famous American master. I knock on a set of nondescript, double glass doors on the southeast corner of the Performing Arts Center. White window shades mask every window, floor to ceiling. From the outside, the gallery draws absolutely no attention to itself, belying the extraordinary significance of the long hidden treasures being prepared for this exhibition. The door swings open on the second knock, framing the kind, bearded face of instructor Christopher West. He motions me inside with the confidence and ease of a man who is nearing the end of a long, successful journey of installing the Diebenkorn exhibit. As I enter the gallery, the students are uncrating and hanging 38 pieces of art that have never been seen

Photo by David Lessin Christopher West’s gallery design class discusses the installation of Richard Diebenkorn’s artwork inside the new Fine Arts Gallery.

by the public, offering a rare backstage glimpse into the world of high art. Small groups of students work together in teams on each of the interior walls. The students punctuate the white expanses with simple, natural wood frames displaying Diebenkorn’s drawings, sketches, watercolor paintings and collages. “We have the opportunity to be some of the few people to see this art for the first time,” said COM student Grace Sorg. “When you see it on the wall it just comes alive. This is a Richard Diebenkorn exhibit and I have goose bumps, I really have goose bumps, it’s just amazing.” At this point in the process, it’s clear

and helping with the lighting of the show,” explains West. As the class has evolved, the instructor has been giving the students more responsibility for virtually every aspect of the exhibit, surprising some of the students. “None of us ever thought we were going to be able to hang and touch and be as intimate with these works as we have been. I get to work with one of my favorite teachers and do something that is extraordinary,” student Carol Solomon points out. “It feels really special, just to be holding [the art], it’s incredible. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said

The combination has been nothing short of spectacular. We have a new space and we have this incredible opportunity with the Diebenkorn exhibit.” – Christopher West, fine arts gallery director

that the students understand exactly what needs to be done and as such they are on task. West watches the scene unfold and, like a proud father, he enjoys the moment. “It’s been a really hands-on experience for them thus far,” he says. “We aren’t just teaching it, we are doing it. Now that we are actually installing the work, it’s become a very real and very exciting thing.” The students in the Gallery Design and Management class have been working hard all semester, performing all of the mundane tasks required when hosting the work of a famous artist. “We’ve had students mocking up the exhibit, helping with the condition reports

Adrienne Niedermann. This exhibit has been over a year in the making and these students are fulfilling a dream envisioned by College of Marin Fine Arts Chair Chester Arnold and the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation. “College of Marin is extremely fortunate to host the world premier of this exhibit,” said David Wain Coon, president of the College of Marin. West looks over his classroom and observes his students. “It’s been really exciting for them to see the work live and in person. It’s something that we have been thinking about, talking about and working on for a

long time and it’s nice to see it take shape. It’s been a long journey, and after all of the work that has gone into it there is a certain amount of satisfaction of having it ready to rock and roll,” he said. These works have a special importance to anyone studying art, Arnold points out. “They are small sketches, remarkable and beautiful. They reveal so much about his personality and the works that were being born in his studio. Each period of his work – Ocean Park, Berkeley, Healdsburg — all had highlights along the way and you can see them happening. It is an exhilarating study depicting the development of an artist.” Bart Schneider, publisher of several books on Diebenkorn, said, “The virtuosity is stunning.” The Gallery Design and Management class is a hands-on working fine art gallery, where students can get world art gallery experience. Carol Sorg explains, “We will be taking the exhibit down and we will be spackling the walls and sanding and painting. It’s the nitty-gritty and also the glamorous part as well.” West sums up the whole experience: “The combination has been nothing short of spectacular. We have a new space and we have this incredible opportunity with the Diebenkorn exhibit. I have a tremendous, dedicated, talented, brilliant bunch of students and as an instructor, it doesn’t get better than this.” The exhibit is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays until 8 p.m. The show will run through November 14 in the new Fine Arts Gallery in the Performing Arts building, located next to the box office and off the main lobby.


College of marin

Calendar Events

When: Sunday, October 13, 2013 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Where: The Fenix, San Rafael The Intimate Diebenkorn: Works on Paper 1949–1992. The artistic mastery of internationally revered artist Richard Diebenkorn will be presented in a premier exhibit at the College of Marin Fine Arts Gallery beginning Monday, September 30, 2013. The show is open to the public free of charge. When: September 30 – November 14. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Where: College of Marin Fine Arts Gallery, 835 College Avenue, Kentfield. (Performing Arts Building, corner of Sir Francis Drake Blvd. and Laurel Avenue) Free admission. Donation welcome.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams / Directed by W. Allen Taylor. Emotionally fragile Blanche DuBois arrives in the hot, steamy, squalid French Quarter of New Orleans where her pregnant sister Stella is living with her husband Stanley Kowalski. When: October 3, 8 p.m. (Pay What You Will Preview); October 4, 5, 11, 12, 1,8 and 19, 8 p.m.; October 13 and 20, 2 p.m. Where: James Dunn Theatre, Kentfield Campus (corner of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard & Laurel Avenue) Admission: Non-subsctiption single ticket prices: $20 general, $15 seniors; $10 students COM Jazz Ensemble at The Fenix The College of Marin Jazz Band is pleased to be sharing the stage with local saxophone master Mel Martin. Mel has collaborated with Frank Sinatra, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Carter, McCoy Tyner and Freddie Hubbard. He is also equally at home playing rock and pop and has performed and recorded with James Brown, BB King and Santana to name a few. For more information please contact The Fenix box office at (415) 8135600 or visit them online at www.fenixlive. com.

Health Center Flu Shots. Flu shots will be available on both campuses to anyone over 18 years of age for $20. The Health Center does not bill insurance plans and is not a Medicare provider. Call (415) 485-9458, for more information. When: October 4 and 11
 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Where: Health Services Portable, parking lot 6,
Kentfield Campus

Men’s Soccer COM Men’s Soccer team vs Contra Costa When: October 4 at 1 p.m. Where: Kentfield COM Men’s Soccer team vs Yuba When: October 18 at 4 p.m. Where: Kentfield COM Men’s Soccer team vs Napa When: October 25 at 4 p.m. Where: Kentfield COM Men’s Soccer team vs Merritt When: October 29 at 4 p.m. Where: Kentfield

Women’s Soccer COM Women’s Soccer team vs Contra Costa When: October 8 at 3:30 p.m. Where: Kentfield COM Women’s Soccer team vs Napa When: October 15 at 3:30 p.m. Where: Kentfield COM Women’s Soccer team vs Los Medanos When: October 22 at 3:30 p.m. Where: Kentfield COM Women’s Soccer team vs Mendocino When: October 25 at 2 p.m. Where: Kentfield

Women’s Volleyball Publicize your club, organization or department events in the Echo Times calendar. Contact our calendar editor at (415) 485-9690.

COM Women’s Volleyball team vs Napa When: October 4 at 6 p.m. Where: Kentfield COM Women’s Volleyball team vs Laney When: Ocvtober 16 at 6 p.m. Where: Kentfield COM Women’s Volleyball team vs Solano When: October 23 at 6 p.m. Where: Kentfield

Dates to Remember End of Midterm Period: October 18

Oct. 4 - Oct. 18, 2013

Echo Times / October 4, 2013 issue  

Features Miss California

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