For nearly 23 years, Orange Coast College English Instructor Jennifer Frank has been teaching college-level writing courses. However, she considers her teaching a hobby compared to her job as a freelance writer.
Frank has an undergraduate degree in English and a master’s degree in creative writing, and began teaching years ago while finishing grad school at California State University Northridge. Although Frank loves teaching, she never planned to make teaching a full-time career. Her true passion is writing, and she spends most of her time writing for non-profit organizations.
“I write grant proposals and marketing materials and anything really that a nonprofit needs to fundraise and speak to their clients,” Frank said. “Most of my career time these days is spent writing.”
Before writing for non-profit organizations, Frank started with advertising and copywriting for ad agencies and worked for banks and bakeries. However, that profession did not “feed her soul” in any constructive way. Eventually, Frank began doing PR for nonprofit organizations and realized that she could make a viable career out of a profession that impacts others.
“At the end of the day, I just want to feel like I've made a difference,” she said. “Paying my mortgage is nice to be able to do as well, so I found a career path where I can do a little bit of both.”
Frank believes words are powerful, and it means everything if you can harness their power. It makes her proud that she can craft impactful sentences and use language to get people to take action for causes she believes in.
She has collected a few mentors throughout her life, but Betty Sabo, her high school speech and government teacher in Las Vegas, is whom she looked up to the most. Sabo inspired her because she held Frank to a higher standard in writing and behavior than anyone else in her life. Nearly 30 years after graduating high school, Frank still turns to Sabo for guidance and approval.
“When she tells me that she's proud of something I've done, I feel like I've really succeeded,” Frank said. “Every year or two, I actually go out to Vegas, and we go out to breakfast.”
Although Frank gives both parents credit, her mom, Phyllis Rosenhaft empowers her as a woman because she put her family’s needs before her own. Frank said her mother realized her goals later in life because she was a housewife and stay-at-home mom.
“I could start that process early in my life. I can be a wife, a mother, a writer, a career person and an advocate. I can have all of these pieces of myself functioning together,” Frank said. “Watching my mom discover that really helped me learn how to have that path.”
The most significant barrier in her career was herself. She began teaching in her mid 20’s at Cal State Northridge, and during the start of her teaching career, Frank had an abundance of self-doubt.
“My co-workers had been my professors, like a year before, and now we were colleagues, and I was like, ‘do I deserve to be here? Am I smart enough?’” Frank said.
This self-doubt eventually slowed Frank down in her career. Because she was busy having to tend to her concerns, she could not focus on her career path. According to Frank, “a healthy dose of therapy” helped her overcome those barriers.
“I don't worry about it anymore,” Frank said. “The things that held me back in my career, or were barriers to my success don't even exist for me anymore.”
A piece of advice Frank has for the next generation of female leaders is to push through their self-doubt and to trust their voice and perspective.
Frank believes we need more women in influential leadership roles to bring a different perspective to the world.
“We're wired to see the world differently. We bring a different view of the world,” Frank said. “I think, in any leadership position, deciding without a woman's view limits the decision.”
She also points out that not all women think the same, and it is an inherent danger to assume all women do.
“I think if you bring five women to the table, you have at least six different opinions, so having as many women and as many types of women in leadership roles just diversifies our perspective on things,” Frank said. “And that can only be a good thing.”
Aside from being a freelance writer and working at OCC, Frank enjoys reading and exercising.
She believes women’s empowerment is important because she has a daughter, and believes she owes it to younger women to be an excellent leader.
“It takes work. It takes fighting,” Frank said. “It's a conscious thing to have to look around and say, ‘if I don't do something about this, then the next generation is going to have to, and that's not fair.’”