February 2004
photograph of Laura WelbyMs. Laura Welby

Associate Professor in Drafting, CAD and Interior Design,
Drafting/CAD Department Chair and
Interior Design Program Chair

7 years part time at SBCC, then 14 years full time
Total number of years in education: 21
Cal Poly Pomona, Bachelor of Architecture


Quotations from award nominator(s): “Laura is a very conscientious instructor and Department Chair…. Students find it very easy to talk to Laura…. She is very generous with her time and very supportive of other instructors. She is very dedicated to her students and the instructors in her department and other departments.”

What teaching tip or counseling advice do you have for other faculty? Nobody learns everything by hearing it or reading it only once. Whenever possible, have your students do as many of the following with what you are teaching them: (1) Read about it; (2) Fill out a study guide on the reading; (3) Hear a lecture about it; (4) Take notes on the lecture; (5) Watch it demonstrated; (6) Apply it; (7) Get critiqued on it; (8) Get tested on it.

What "Words of Wisdom" do you have for other faculty? Be compassionate with your students. That student who you think is slacking off may actually be in chronic pain from a car accident or is juggling two jobs and a terminally ill parent.

What careers or jobs did you have before working at SBCC? For the first six years after college I was a project designer in the same office I had worked at all through high school. After they closed the firm I worked at an engineering firm doing electrical engineering on large commercial, medical and educational buildings for two years. After my second child was born, I decided that I needed to be home with my kids, and so I began my own residential design business which I ran out of my home for about seven years at the same time I was teaching drafting part time here. I was then fortunate enough to be hired at SBCC full time right at the time I needed a full time job.

Who was your most influential teacher and why? My most influential teacher was the director of the San Marcos High School newspaper, The King’s Page, on which I was the business manager and a reporter. She taught me how to write succinctly, which was great training for my future career writing workbooks for my classes. My second most influential teacher was the director of the Speech Club of which I was a member. She taught me how to plan out and deliver an effective speech, which was great training for my future career as an instructor.

What is your favorite student line or excuse? “I was absent last time. Did I miss anything?”

What are your hobbies/interests? I love reading design magazines and books, especially on kitchen design. I also love designing friends’ and family members’ homes and kitchens, and decorating my own home. I also enjoy cooking and giving dinner parties for family and friends.

What are you reading now? I am always rereading A Pattern Language. It is a report on the findings of six architects who traveled all over the world in the 1970’s, interviewing people about what they like in their built environments. I especially agree with their findings about what everyone wants in their own homes: porches, bay windows, combined family room/kitchen, south light, windows on two sides of each room, and my particular favorite, guest quarters to rent out or use for older children or parents. These were all things that I incorporated into the design of my own home, even though I hadn’t read the book yet when I designed my house.

What do you love about your job? I love interacting with people, students, colleagues, everyone! And I love the planning process of how to best teach something to my students.

What has been your greatest accomplishment and/or challenge? My greatest challenge was also my greatest accomplishment. In 1990 I designed, drafted and supervised the construction of my family’s home. We have enjoyed living in it ever since. And of course my other greatest challenge and accomplishment has been raising my two wonderful children, Morgan and Marisa. They have both been attending SBCC.

What's one thing most people don't know about you? In the summer of 1990 I organized and helped teach a series of seminars here at SBCC on rebuilding for the hundreds of people whose homes were burned in the Painted Cave Fire.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? My idea of perfect happiness is doing exactly what I am doing now; being a mom, teaching what I love to do, being a department chair, doing some designing, drafting and writing on the side, getting together with friends, and enjoying a home that I created. Life couldn’t get much better!

What historical figure would you most want to meet? I would like to meet Thomas Jefferson. Though he had his flaws, he worked hard to create a great country, he lived during a time period I am very interested in, and he was an architect.

What is your favorite place in the world? In 1972 when I was on a three-month architectural study abroad trip, I took the train through the quaint, historic town of Zug, Switzerland. I fell in love with it and I promised myself that some day I would return. About ten years later one of our many exchange students was from that same town. Exactly 20 years after my first trip there, I took my two young children there where we exchanged homes with my exchange student’s sister. We traveled all over Europe that summer with that picturesque town as our home base, and our former exchange student as our guide. It was a fabulous three months. One of my most memorable times is when my seven-year-old daughter slipped and fell into the Grand Canal in Venice and I had to pull her out!

What is your motto? I have three sayings that I repeat to my students often:

“Design is a compromise.”

“Life ain’t easy…for anybody.”

“There are advantages and disadvantages to everything.”