Imagine what it would be like to be your old professors’ new boss.
Lauren Becker, 34, a self-described local girl who was a journalism student turned fashion major, found her permanent home in the fall as Orange Coast College’s new fashion program coordinator.
Former titleholder Christina Amaral resigned from the position after 31 years. Amaral was also a student at Orange Coast College in 1976 and said she is excited about spending more time in the classroom and in the industry helping students get internships and jobs.
Becker said she considers Amaral her mentor and was actually her student at one point while she studied at OCC. Amaral says Becker is perfect for the job and is glad to see her former students accomplishing great things.
“Lauren is going to do a great job — she is the product of our department. She knows the industry. She is super talented. She’s highly educated. She’s just ready,” Amaral said.
Becker grew up in Westminster and had big dreams of becoming a fashion designer when she was just 7. From there she set her education plan — she would get a bachelor’s degree in art, minor in business and own her own company someday.
But for many years she was pushed toward a path and was led to believe fashion wasn’t a real career.
Despite the comments, Becker said she knew the field was her calling. She studied at OCC and earned her associates degree and a Fashion Design certificate then went on to get her bachelor’s degree at Cal State Fullerton in American studies.
American studies? Some may question how relevant her degree is to fashion, but according to Becker — how social and cultural things progress are 100 percent fashion.
“Understanding ideas of masculinity and femininity, jobs and dating, all of that stuff play a roll in whom we present ourselves as and what we wear — so to me it makes perfect sense,” Becker said about her degree.
Becker began teaching at OCC at 23 and has taught here for the last 11 years. She taught that same sewing class that made her realize fashion was what her future would look like.
She said she was scared at the time to begin teaching other students her same age but the fear vanished as Becker recognized that the Fashion department’s experienced professors would be there to lend a hand if needed.
“It’s wonderful to see someone who started as our student learn and grow, transfer and come back to us as a teacher.
It’s been a really great experience. We needed another full-time faculty for a long time and Lauren is a very good fit,” said Cheri Lawell, a longtime Fashion department instructor.
Many professionals who know Becker appreciate her strong background in art and fashion and the sense of creativity she has to offer.
Her drive to make the department grow with new technology advancements is also admired.
“Being OCC’s fashion program coordinator has been Lauren’s goal for a very long time,” said former classmate and Fashion department assistant Katie Conner. “She’s worked really hard and is an amazing instructor. Her attention to detail and her interaction with students is really great. She’s always bringing new things to the classroom and that’s exciting.”
Program coordinators’ duties include promoting the program, building a strong team, keeping the curriculum going and working with the industry.
Becker was doing just that.
She has had many jobs in the industry in different avenues including fashion design, merchandising, visual display, retail sales, retail management and product development.
She even had her own accessories brand sold in local stores called Plain State.
She has also taught at Long Beach City College, Cal State LA and Cal State Long Beach.
Becker also earned her master’s degree from Cal State LA in art with an emphasis in fashion and textiles.
Becker has had more than 10 internships through the years.
One was working as a personal assistant to Paul Frank and others included working with Volcom, Erin Cole Designs, where she made tiaras from scratch, and Tiffany & Co. at South Coast Plaza.
Becker said that if she needed to be evacuated from her home and could only take three items she would take a ring that her father handmade with a quarter as an engagement ring to her mother, her surfboard antique coffee table and as many shoes she could hold.
Some of her favorite things are teaching the class Fashion 170, Clothing Design and Selection, and costume designer Edith Head.
Lawell said she has some general advice for Becker.
“Don’t take on too much too quickly. Do what you can and pay attention to your five classes first and foremost. We will help her with all of the other areas. Ask lots of questions and don’t feel that you have to do too much too soon,” Lawell said.
Becker said she is excited and eager to begin next semester with her new title.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the faculty at OCC and them wanting to be a part of my path and plan. I’m really excited that this is what I do. This is my career now. This doesn’t feel like a job. I don’t wake up in the mornings and dread going to class — it never feels like that coming here. I feel like I’m going to hang out with my friends and we’re going to do cool stuff,” Becker said.