Today, Lillian is a respected mentor and teacher. She’s still considered to be on staff at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where she has worked since 1988 in the Education Extension program as a vocational education instructor. In 2006, she was one of two instructors to receive the Dean’s Distinguished Instructor Award. Although she works for UCLA less frequently these days, she claims it’s “not because I’m semi-retired, but because more and more classes are now online. They offered me the opportunity to teach online classes. I couldn’t do it! This is what I do,” she says emphatically, gesticulating with her hands to demonstrate the importance of human interaction.
Since 2005, Lillian has designed and taught professional development courses for EMS, MRI tech, DMS tech, MIBC and Medical Assistant instructors at Casa Loma College. Barbara Bridges, Director of Nursing at Casa Loma’s Van Nuys campus, says that Lillian “is a mentor to our instructors, which trickles down to our students. She’s an integral part of our program. We can call her anytime to ask her anything.” Janet Nishina, Education Director at Casa Loma, elaborates: “Critical thinking in the classroom and in the clinical setting are different. Lillian is able to draw that distinction for our instructors. Today, for example, it’s cultural diversity. How do we help everyone be politically correct while delving into other sensitive topics, such as death and dying? Lillian is really good at that.”
In front of a group of 15 healthcare instructors at Casa Loma, Lillian is in her element, implementing her multicultural diversity curriculum. With a teaching style that is alternately humorous, forceful, matronly and cajoling, she challenges her audience to look to themselves first in order to set a higher ethical standard for their students. In today’s world, you have to teach the whole person. “The majority of the problems we have with students are based on misunderstanding,” she asserts. “I get very blunt about their feelings about multiculturalism. I want to get their feelings and attitudes out on the table. We’re all prejudiced in some way. Tell your students to leave that in the parking lot—to walk into the classroom devoid of that. It begins with you.”
Connie Montalvo, a healthcare instructor at Casa Loma’s Hawthorne campus, has taken a few courses with Lillian and considers her a mentor. “Lillian is effective because of the type of students she’s taught,” Montalvo says. “Vocational educators, minorities, students from poorer backgrounds, including immigrants. She always points out that students come in with 300 pounds of baggage.” Winston Ikeda, also from the Hawthorne campus, adds: “A lot of what she talks about is philosophical. The types of topics are more concept-related—we go into groups, work things out together. She makes us think outside the box.”
Next: Lillian’s advice for young nurses