Dean, San Elijo Campus; Letters & Communication Studies

It’s no wonder Dana Smith was selected by students as the 2008 Faculty Member of the Year; this “homegrown” MiraCosta College communication instructor has been making an impact on the lives of MiraCosta students for the past 20 years.

“For the past two decades, I’ve have taught part-time and full-time in the communication department,” says Dana, who recently accepted the position of MiraCosta’s dean of Arts and Letters. “I’m MiraCosta raised; a homegrown girl.”

Dana received a graduate degree in rhetoric from UC Davis and a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from UC Santa Barbara.

She fell in love with teaching while a graduate student, and began teaching at MiraCosta College at the same time she began her career in residential marketing. Before teaching full-time at MiraCosta, Dana held marketing positions with Watt Industries, Davidson Communities, and Graves Advertising, where she served as senior vice president of client services.

“I’ve only ever taught, or aspired to teach, at MiraCosta,” says Dana. “However, as I tell my students, I have had two jobs besides teaching at MiraCosta. I’ve been a residential marketing specialist during the day, which has given me industry experience that I bring to the classroom. At night, I have been the ‘director of household maintenance and personality development,’ or, in other words, a mom. These two careers have impacted how I teach and how I relate to students.”

Dana’s compassionate yet challenging teaching style, combined with her commitment to students and the communication discipline has earned her high marks among MiraCosta students. Leo Baghdassarian, a Torrey Pines High School graduate who, after earning an associate degree from MiraCosta College, transferred to Cornell University, says Dana was essential in shaping his outlook on higher education. 

"Dana and I spent a lot of time discussing the benefits of continuing my education," Leo says. "She even met with me outside of class and helped guide me with the college selection process and future graduate-level options.  Dana is top-notch, the best teacher I have ever had. I will be lucky to have an instructor like her at Cornell."

The impact that Dana has on the lives of students is unmistakable. Students who selected her as the 2008 Faculty Member of the Year said that she “…has done an awesome job in being able to connect the items we learn in class to the outside world.”  One student noted that “every time I see her, I have to thank her for teaching me.  She has changed my way of thinking and planning.”

“I love my job because it involves my heart,” says Dana. “I had a wonderful experience in college and graduate school and now feel I have come full circle. When I teach, and now as dean, I feel that I am changing lives, helping to direct career paths and teaching students about that which marks our humanity: communication.”