Don Cuffel, Education
Don Cuffel never stops learning. With more than 30 years of corporate experience as an environmental engineer, most recently at Valero, Cuffel is setting his sights on life after retirement. Believing that language is the backbone of any culture, he plans to volunteer as an ESL instructor—and UC Berkeley Extension's Certificate Program in Teaching English as a Second Language is the right fit.
Extension's flexible class times enable Cuffel to continue to work full-time until he completes the certificate in May 2012. The evening classes also provide an opportunity to apply the course material to real-world scenarios. "You're driven to think about, ‘What is it I don't know and can't afford not to know about this other group of people?'" Cuffel explains. "I found that helps in my day-to-day work because you might be dealing with people from a different labor group, a different part of the country or a different part of government, and that is essentially another culture. If you're willing to apply what you learn in these courses, it's extremely helpful—even in your non-ESL work."
Although the course material provides a solid knowledge of the subject, Cuffel also credits the instructors in creating an engaging atmosphere. He notes Dr. Stephen L. West, Patti Weissmann and Sedique Popal. "They take time to make sure they're not just imparting information, but creating understanding," he says.