The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Catching up with former Express adviser Jan Haag

Photo: Dick Schmidt

While packing up her office in STS 225, now-retired journalism instructor Jan Haag peered out of her door. The moment was captured in a photo taken by Haag’s partner, former Sacramento Bee photographer Dick Schmidt, in May of this year. Haag likely spent more time in her office that day than she’d been able to in the year leading up to the moment due to the campus closures. Haag’s expression depicted excitement and anticipation of her next adventure: the rest of her life.

Haag said that she had always planned on making an exit when she turned 63. Her last year of instruction at City College brought with it an unexpected amount of scrambling as instructors were forced to immediately transition on-ground classes to be carried out virtually. With a birthday in July, she admitted that it might have been smarter of her to leave before the start of fall 2020.

“From mid-March 2020 to June 1 of 2021, I didn’t stop working. It was 8-12 hour days everyday. It was a hell of a lot of work and a really big learning curve,” she said. “There was a question of me wanting to do it another year now that I have all of this infrastructure in place. I could not maintain that pace. I was just exhausted. Seven classes is just too many, and that’s how many I was teaching to do the journalism program.”

Additionally, she said journalism students could benefit from a more diverse set of instructors. That topic is one Haag has discussed with her former colleagues Ginny McReynolds and Dianne Heimer. The three former City College journalism instructors are now comrades in their shared status of journalism instructor, emeritus. In Haag’s  stead, the journalism department has added instructors Kris Hooks, Sena Christian (both former contributors to the Express) and Nancy DeVille.

“We’re older white ladies. It’s time to let new, younger people — hopefully some of them people of color — to come in and do this in a whole new way. Truly, all learning institutions remake themselves every generation, which is about every 25 years. I’ve been teaching for 30 years. It’s an appropriate time to go,” Haag said. “They are gaining three brand new instructors who are new to the game, figuring out how to do this and paving the path forward.”

In 1989, Haag became editor-in-chief of Sacramento Magazine. That same year, she began her career with City College as an adjunct professor. She co-advised the Express and taught journalism and English classes, balancing the work throughout her career at the college. She became a full-time instructor in 1993.

Photo: Dick Schmidt

A year later, Haag became one of the first co-advisers of Susurrus, City College’s literary journal. The journal began in 1994 and, according to Haag, published its most recent edition in spring 2021.

“Susurrus means a soft rustling sound. It’s the sound of wind going through leaves in trees. It was a word one of our students, Kara Synhorst — who is now a high school English teacher — brought to us. We didn’t know what it meant at first. Marci Selva just published the last one…I don’t think they’ll be able to produce it again.”

Synhorst championed Haag as a supportive builder of community. She said she regularly sees Haag supporting local artists and colleagues and, whenever the two have an opportunity to talk, is surprised by Haag’s appreciation for contributions Synhorst said happened a quarter of a century ago. 

“I was a punky kid and she was … kind — not to mention professional and good at what she did. I had her for … at least two semesters working on Susurrus,” Synhorst remembered. “I appreciated that she valued my unusual choices, including a submission on the NorCal NoiseFest. I think it was the very first one; they’re currently holding their 25th event.

“I’ve been delighted to follow her adventures on her blog and I often share her writing with others,” she continued. “I know she’ll be missed as a teacher, but I’m so glad she gets this time to write, reflect and adventure further.”

Vince Ybarra, another former student of Haag’s, held positions at the Express as reporter, managing editor and then co-editor-in-chief from 2017-2018. In the few years since leaving City College, Ybarra has completed an internship at ABC 10 in Sacramento and is currently a multimedia journalist for KYMA near the California, Arizona and Mexico borders.

Earlier this year, his success as a journalist allowed him to leave his job of almost 10 years as a retail banker. He gives Haag credit as the catalyst to his growing career in journalism. Ybarra spoke enthusiastically about how well Haag reads people to see what makes them special.

“She believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. I messaged Jan when I was at Sac State to say, ‘Hey, I’m having some issues finding an internship.’ KCRA didn’t want to hire me because I wasn’t a senior. FOX 40 and ABC 10 hadn’t gotten back to me,” Ybarra said. “She must have reached out to the executive producer [at ABC 10]. A couple of days later, [I] had an interview and they hired me within a day or two.”

This is a FDA approved medicine and hence you can select the medicine which you free get viagra like based your choice. I know who you are and when I need to save some money I stash cash in that compartment and always forget about it hop over to this page generico cialis on line for some reason. I have learned that life generic levitra for sale is of great importance as well. Second, we require technologies that translate emergent knowledge canadian cialis no prescription into practice.

Güd wrtr, Haag’s website and blog, often gives a peek into her travels, hardships and adventures — often accompanied by photos taken by Dick Schmidt and, in some cases, featuring original or quoted poetry. In a recent post, she bragged proudly over three now-obsolete newspaper vending boxes she collected. With help from Sacramento State University journalism instructor Timi Poeppleman and author Anne Da Vige, her backyard is now decorated with boxes from Sacramento News & Review, The Sacramento Bee and the San Francisco Chronicle.

“When [The Bee was] giving them away last year, Randy [Allen, photo adviser and former colleague] and I never got it together to be able to do that,” Haag said. “They’re in an area of the backyard that my late husband, Cliff — who was a photojournalist for the Vacaville Reporter — used to call the ‘Urban Jungle.’ That’s my tribute to Northern California journalism. If the apocalypse came tomorrow and those somehow survived, someone would wonder ‘Who was this?’”

Within hours of each of her posts on social media, Haag racks up a substantial number of comments, likes and reactions. She jokes that she gets many more “likes” when she mentions Dick Schmidt. Whether or not that’s the case, the attention her posts get are proof that she has developed a community of appreciative followers by helping others throughout her life.

Photo: Dick Schmidt

Haag called former student Steph Rodriguez a remarkable student, adding, “I swear to god, that woman can write anything. She’s so versatile.” Rodriguez was editor-in-chief at City College’s out-of-print magazine Mainline, as well as the Express’ physical newspaper from 2008-2011. 

“[Jan’s] someone who always offered such sound advice about the ups and downs of the media industry, especially at a local level. Her door was always open, and I appreciated that,” Rodriguez said. “She is someone I hold in high esteem for giving someone like me the confidence to pursue a career in such a competitive and quickly changing industry. I wish more professors were like her.”

Once Haag had emptied her office, she arranged for Margaret Lednicky, City College’s director of operations, to take over feeding the feral cats on campus — which she’d been feeding for years by the temporary buildings that sit across from Hughes Stadium. With all of those boxes checked, Haag said she could begin her next chapter.

Photo: Dick Schmidt

“I resolved to take naps and sleep a lot. Especially during the first month, I certainly did a lot of that,” Haag said. “There’s been a surprising amount of activity. People kept saying ‘What are you going to do?’ and I keep saying, ‘What I normally do in summer. Live the rest of my life.’

When the statewide tier system restricted gatherings, Haag was unable to hold the writing groups she hosted before the pandemic. She’s now been able to resume those groups 2-4 times a month. In some cases, she hosts the workshops virtually to accommodate the smaller number of attendees she prefers for each session.

She said the writing she does in those groups — similar to what she’d done in her Writing as a Healing Art class at City College — provide the people who attend a much-needed outlet.

“When campus was shut down…the only class I continued weekly [virtually] was Writing as a Healing Art. I had only five or six people every week, but those people were so happy they had a place to write,” Haag said. “I ran three or four of those a week during summer 2020 because I had so many people wanting to do that kind of writing and [I] had writing of my own I wanted to vent about.”

The vast difference in free time overlapped with an increase in COVID-19 vaccinations. As society began ramping back up for the first time in two years, Haag spoke of having the opportunity to spend time with friends in times of need, as well as doing a lot of her own self-care.

“There’s some loss and certainly, I miss [my students and colleagues], but it’s also a joyful moment for me. I’m walking like crazy,” she said, “I have time for walks and naps. I’m happily busy enough with the stuff I most want to do. That’s what I wanted from retirement.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Express

Your donation will support the student journalists of Sacramento City College. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Express

Comments (0)

All The Express Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *