Leola McClure grew up with her family “front and center,” supporting her throughout her academic pursuits, even though they didn’t always understand exactly what it was she was doing.
“My family did not understand what a doctorate was,” laughs Leola. “In fact, when I took my candidacy exam to earn my Ph.D., my mom said, ‘oh, good luck on that test!’ Like it was just some everyday, run-of-the mill exam!”
Leola passed that candidacy exam with flying colors, earning her Ph.D. in communication from the Ohio State University in Columbus. She also holds a master’s degree in educational leadership and a bachelor’s degree with honors in mass communication from Middle Tennessee State University. Leola’s dedication to education made her the first member of her family to graduate from college.
“It’s the accomplishment I’m most proud of,” says Leola. “In fact, it’s what drew me to community colleges. I taught at research universities and felt like a fish out of water. Community colleges feel more welcoming, and the faculty is here for the students, whatever their stories may be.”
Leola joined MiraCosta’s Communication Department
as a full-time instructor in the fall 2009 semester after teaching part-time for the college since 2007. Leola has also taught communication courses at Golden West College, Palomar College, Ventura College, the University of Kentucky and the Ohio State University.
Leola also served as project director for the Center for Health Policy Research at the University of California, Irvine. She managed the day-to-day operations of multiple nationally and locally funded research projects in cancer prevention and control, health promotion, and quality of life issues for minorities and medically underserved populations; hired, trained and supervised research staff; and created and presented research reports. In fact, Leola contributed to eight separate research papers over the past three years.
“Working as the project director gave me a sense of purpose that I was helping people,” explains Leola. “While I loved my job, I never got to meet the patients and I was really missing the face-to-face interaction that I enjoy so much in the classroom.”
Now that Leola is in the classroom full-time, she is getting plenty of face-to-face time with students She teaches five courses: three oral communication courses and two group communication courses.
“I love MiraCosta. I am really excited to be here and I am jumping right in, becoming involved in our college community. This is a great place to be.”