Originally born on the island of Guam, Adam Navarro is an educator, acting coach, speech coach, director, and award-winning actor. Throughout his career, Navarro has built numerous nationally successful speech teams, trained and coached several actors, and built a class environment that inspires students to explore their passions.
After moving to California to be raised by his grandparents who both worked in eduation, Navarro discovered a new path for his life. He enrolled at California State University in Fullerton where he explored his love for public speaking in his undergraduate program. Shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree, Navarro went on to obtain his M.F.A. in Drama and Acting.
Today, in addition to teaching in the Campus Scholars program, Professor Navarro also teaches as an adjunct professor for Long Beach City College and the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.
Recently, we sat down with Navarro to get his take on online higher education and what sparked his interest in joining our faculty. He gave us a few interesting reasons that we found really captivating.
”I decided to work here at Campus because it's a great learning opportunity,” Navarro shared. “As an instructor, I tend to teach the same types of courses over and over again, and I feel like I teach them so much that I could teach them with my eyes closed. Working here gives me an opportunity to wear multiple hats and to teach courses I don't typically get to teach.”
Beyond opening the doors to teaching subjects he doesn’t typically have the chance to instruct, Navarro also expressed his admiration of the Campus community.
“Reason number two is that the culture is really great here. Everyone that I've met, from the administrators to the teaching assistants to the support staff, has all been fantastic and they seem to be a company that truly cares about student success.”
When discussing the online business program, we asked Navarro what his thoughts were on online education in general.
“I really love the flexibility that online learning offers. I like that I'm able to just click on a link and do my entire class from the comfort of my own home. It's very convenient and I know that meets a need for a lot of students as well. I like that.”
Throughout his time teaching in the Campus Scholars program, Navarro noted that giving students access to an online education offers an important pathway to higher education that otherwise may not have been possible.
“There are a lot of nontraditional students. I know just from teaching one quarter, there are some students who wouldn't be able to go to college if they didn't have this option. Some people are working or they might have a kid or other family obligations going on. So it [online education] makes sense for them.”
Navarro’s Transformation through Public Speaking and Theatre
“I really loved speech, communication, and theatre arts,” Navarro shared. “I actually really enjoyed being on the speech team back at the college that I used to go to because I was interested in acting.”
Throughout Navarro’s college experience, he adored exploring the arts but mentioned that a lot of the types of productions his college troupe would put on weren’t necessarily something he was interested in auditioning for.
“The types of theater that they were doing at the time were a lot of Tennessee Williams, Sam Shepard, and Tom Stoppard — who are great playwrights, but they're all men and all particularly from a certain ethnic demographic. I wasn't really interested in playing those parts,” Navarro said. “Being on the speech team allowed me to play characters that I don't typically get to play, and that was a lot of fun. I had an opportunity to stretch myself as an actor.”
Navarro also mentioned that his experiences being on his speech team in college allowed him to grow as a performer while advocating for socially significant issues that he is passionate about. However, before becoming a part of the speech team, he, like many other students, felt anxious when it came to public speaking.
“I decided to get into public speaking because I knew that it was a fear that I had to get over. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I knew that I wanted to help large groups of people, and I had to get over this fear of public speaking,” Navarro said. “I ended up taking as many public speaking and theatre courses as I could, and I got very good at it. I won these big deal awards, and that gave me a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities!”
Navarro also expressed his appreciation for the support he had along the way, noting that among those who supported him, he thought most highly of one of his college professors.
“My favorite professor in college was a speech professor. He was so passionate and enthusiastic and genuinely cared about my success. That's one thing that allowed me to stick with college because this was an adult person that I looked up to who believed in me and empowered me. I wouldn't have been able to stick through college if it wasn't for him.”
After being able to branch out and establish connections with others who supported him along his college journey, Navarro reflected on how the adventure impacted him as a person.
“I was completely transformed by that whole experience in college. I was such a different person coming out of that program than who I was going into it, and that's what I want for my students. I want them to be transformed in a similar way and ultimately to be able to give back to the academic community because it has given me so much.”
The Great Teacher Inspires
Inspired by his own educational experience, Navarro knew that he wanted to teach students and be an empowering influence on them. However, he also explained that his passion for teaching started a lot sooner than in college.
“I've been working as an educator for about 20 years now, and I think what got me interested in teaching was that I was raised by a lot of teachers. My father was a teacher and so was my grandfather. My grandma was an administrator,” Navarro shared. “These were people that talked about their love of teaching. We had these conversations around the dinner table about some of the pros and cons of teaching, and I think that's what inspired me to become a teacher in the first place. These are people that I really admired and I looked up to, and I suppose one of the reasons why I'm a teacher today is because I wanted to make them proud.”
Over the course of his career in education, Navarro honed his craft and found that his passions for teaching and other subjects were the key to becoming a great instructor for his students.
“What makes a great teacher is someone who's passionate about what it is they're talking about. When someone is passionate about what it is they're talking about, that almost fuels you in a way.”
In addition to Navarro’s views on the importance of bringing passion to a classroom, he stressed that core values like empathy and patience are also vital for a truly great learning experience for teachers and students alike.
“I think that a great teacher also needs to be empathetic, even though teaching online is very difficult for some teachers. We’ve got to understand that the students are going through a hard time, too, and we got to have compassion and empathy for the struggles that they have,” Navarro shared. “They need patience with students. Teachers need to be someone who's able to create a learning partnership with the student, and they should be flexible. There's this quote that I think of when I think about what makes a great teacher by William Ward. He says, ‘The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.’ That's my mantra for what makes a great teacher.”
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