Meet Cena Olson, Hausner's Administrative Assistant, Chugim Coordinator, and van driver extraordinair. In this interview, Cena shares her background in education, her passion for creating engaging learning experiences, and her commitment to building a vibrant and inclusive community at Hausner. Get to know Cena as she discusses her love for Disney, her inspiration for pursuing a career in education, and her unique approach to helping students thrive.
1. Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your background and experience?
I’m a Bay Area Native, born and raised. I completed my degree in Sociology with a certificate in inner city development at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont in 2013. There, I focused mainly on transitional strategies including after school programs for at-risk youth and rehabilitation for parolees. I later went on to gain a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. I taught and lived in Leon, Nicaragua for a year and a half working with TK all the way up to college level TEFL students. I worked at Notre Dame de Namur University over the span of 8 years in various capacities, most recently, as an Academic Advisor for the graduate programs in Education and Teaching Credentials as well as Clinical Psychology.
2. What is your role at Hausner, and how long have you been here?
Continuing my theme of working in education, I began at Hausner this past May 2023 as the Chugim Coordinator and Front Desk Receptionist.
3. What inspired you to become a teacher/get into your line of work?
I have a passion for education, and during my time as an academic advisor, I saw so many students get overwhelmed when they got to college trying to do exactly what they thought they were supposed to do. They often lose their passion for learning. I believe we can learn and grow not only in the structure of a classroom but through various activities and in interactions with others. Chugim is a great way to keep students open to trying something outside their comfort zone or expanding the knowledge they already have while making it fun.
4. What do you find most rewarding about your job, and what are some of the unique challenges you face in this role?
One of the biggest challenges I saw in higher education was students who burnt out and were unable to complete their classes. Fear of failure was what really challenged many of the college students and the ability to see things through. How do you complete a task or project that you don’t like or maybe you feel you’re not very good at it so you want to stop? These feelings are natural and understandable but with adversity comes strength and perseverance. For my role as Chugim Coordinator, I made the decision to offer more sessions so students have the opportunity to try various activities while committing to a shorter length of time. My hope is that students will have an opportunity to have a lot of variety as well as learn the value of seeing through a commitment with a reasonable timeline.
5. What do you do when you’re not at work?
When I'm not at work, I choose to spend most of my free time with my family. My parents, my sister and her husband and kids (Charlotte, 8 and Ryan, 6) and my 95 year old grandmother all live in Redwood City so I am incredibly fortunate to have them nearby so I do my best to set some time aside every week to connect with my family.
6. What do you think you would do if you weren’t a teacher?
I’ve been in education for quite some time and honestly can’t imagine shifting out of it. I’d like to continue my education to see when I can grow in this field.
7. What do you love most about Hausner?
I love the community at Hausner. From the first day, I was warmly welcomed by parents, students, and staff.
8. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I am a huge Disney fan and yes, my family and I are “those people” who coordinate our outfits and go to Disneyland any chance we get. My personal record is in 2019 I went 11 times for a total of 37 days in the park… not nearly enough in my opinion! In a perfect world, I would be hanging with the punny skipper on the jungle cruise or singing with the birds in the tiki room 365 days out of the year!
9. What is your favorite Hebrew word or Jewish Holiday?
I love Hanukkah. I grew up celebrating it with close friends and now I join my sister and her family in the celebration. I love the lighting of the menorah and the mindfulness and intention behind each night.