Meet three VIPs from MCC’s 2020 Hall of Fame: Betsy Hertzler

MCC’s full list of 2020 Hall of Fame honorees can be found at https://www.mesacc.edu/alumni/hall-fame/2020-hall-fame.

On Nov. 10, Mesa Community College (MCC) announced its list of newly inducted 2020 Hall of Fame Honorees. Among these were three veteran professors: Dr. Betsy Hertzler, Mona Scott and Dr. Wynn Call, who have all etched their names into the hearts and walls of these campus grounds.

This series explores their unique personalities, beginnings and goals. Each has played a tremendously important role in shaping MCC’s education experience. These articles explore who these instructors are, what motivates them and their perspectives on education’s biggest issues.

Elizabeth (Betsy) Hertzler, Ed.D., M.A., M.C. Counseling

Elizabeth Hertzler goes by Betsy because that’s what she was called by her family growing up. (Photo courtesy of Institutional Advancement)

Dr. Betsy Hertzler, currently an adjunct professor in the history department, spent a lifetime teaching at MCC before retiring into the role she fills today. She began her career here teaching in counseling in 1980, and in 1991, after leaving to attain a position as president of the district faculty, returned to MCC to seek out a full-time position in the history department. 

She led multitudes of classes through different eras of history until her retirement in 2013. And soon after, adorning the mantle of adjunct faculty, continued to teach courses like the History of World Religions and History of the Middle Ages. 

“Once a historian, always a historian,” Hertzler said. “…I like to watch the light go on as people put things together.” 

One of her favorite teaching methods involves students comparing the same historical event from different perspectives. Placing differing accounts of the same event side-by-side and allowing students to piece together what actually happened often provides a fuller picture, Hertzler explained. 

“For example, when the crusaders invaded Jerusalem, it [the text] gives the account from the crusaders point of view and the citizens, who in this account happened to be Muslim, who were in Jerusalem.”

She considers herself fortunate to be teaching at the collegiate level because she is able to look at these materials in more complex ways than she could at a public school. When asked about a successful teaching moment, she recalled a student group’s research project on the history of piracy.

“They talked about the fact that the pirates were actually communities… And if you disobeyed the rules, you could be punished in that community,” Hertzler explained. “… These were all things that I learned, because I had never heard them before… That is my greatest joy, to present the background, present the support and then let them be as creative as possible.” 

Hertzler said she felt surprised but great about being inducted into the MCC 2020 Hall of Fame. No journey is complete without challenges, however, and Hertzler could recount some scattered through her time here. Between the rebellious, chatty students and all the students who had struggled with literacy, she believed COVID-19 to be her greatest challenge yet.

“As a matter of fact, I am not teaching this semester. I am not tech savvy. I graduated in the previous century, and my education classes didn’t teach technology.” 

Somewhat sullenly, she explained how she has had to temporarily stop teaching after the spring semester due to the demands of online learning. 

“I am sorry for that, because I do miss it,” Hertzler said. 

However, perhaps more than the students, classrooms and lesson plans, she misses seeing the people who have helped her along the way. She thanked Dr. Shereen Lerner, Steve Lurenz, and Dr. John Ohl for widening her academic and personal life through conversations, and also the former Chancellor of the Maricopa County Community College District, Paul A. Elsner, and the late Alfredo de los Santos Jr., for their hard work creating a better campus for students. 

Moreover, Hertzler now has some students who are family.

“We now are family to a former student because we grew so close,” Hertzler explained. “I identified early on that she didn’t have many responsible adults in her life, and so I made a point to stay in touch with her. Since then my husband has officiated her wedding. That’s been one of the joys of being a teacher.”

When asked if she has any insight into the education industry, she said she was confused at the lack of funding and support for education institutions.

“What the heck? Why isn’t education more highly regarded in our society and in our state?” Hertzler asked. “… It’s a crime how much we pay our public school teachers.” 

“Education is a community resource. It is not a business. It is a very different motivation,” Hertzler continued. “I see education as a calling, and I think to be a successful instructor, which is one of the reasons I was so touched to be selected for this group, is because it means a vocation–a calling. It’s not a job. You don’t measure the time.” 

Hertzler now eagerly awaits for a time when the pandemic lockdown is over and the restrictions for teaching in person are removed. When that day comes, you can bet she will be back in the classroom doing what she loves. Until then, she will enjoy time with her family, learn about other cultures and dream about the time when she can travel again.

About Author

Brock Blasdell is a student journalist from Mesa, Arizona. He was hired onto the Mesa Legend in late 2018 as an Opinions Editor, and soon became the publication’s News Editor in 2019. He is now an Alumnus Correspondent for the paper. His writings emphasize college history, civil involvement, and personal reflection on modern American issues, while also analyzing and critiquing the role of modern media in national politics. Twitter @Brockblasdell

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