Wallace Emerson Society

From Learning Disabled to Able Teacher

Lisa Cochrum photoLisa Cochrum ’92 has difficulty processing math and language, so she understands the frustrations of a learning disability. She came to Westmont for the small classes, thinking that would help. But she found the faculty made the real difference in her learning. “Personal involvement with professors was life-changing,” Lisa says. “Over and over again they told me I had academic potential. Their encouragement made me successful.”

This experience helped Lisa become an effective biology teacher at Saratoga High School in San Jose, Calif. Her classes include more special education students than most. Each year, she shares her story with these teenagers and their parents. “I tell them not to rule out college, to reach beyond what they think they can do,” she says. They listen. One former student just graduated with honors from USC.

Describing her 12-year teaching career as “phenomenal,” Lisa finds her greatest joy in explaining the majesty and complexity of the created world. While she can’t share her faith in class, she makes it known by sponsoring a Christian club on campus.

Traveling to Europe during Mayterm with Professors Shirley Mullen and Bob Wennberg opened new possibilities for Lisa. “I was the first person in my family to travel internationally,” she says. Each summer she goes some place new; this year it is Madagascar and the Seychelle Islands.

As a single mother — and a special education teacher — Regis Stevens Anderson ’62 sacrificed significantly to send her daughter to Westmont. Family members have also helped Lisa become a homeowner.

Although she is relatively young, Lisa has planned her estate, which will create scholarship funds for Westmont students who have learning disabilities or who plan to teach science. Proceeds from the sale of her home will provide the funds.

“I want to take the sacrifices my family made to educate me and to help me buy a home and turn them around to benefit Westmont,” she says. “I am so grateful for my professors and my experience there.”

The Wallace Emerson Society recognizes people of vision who contribute to Westmont’s future through the creation of a named endowment or a provision in their estates.

For more information about the Wallace Emerson Society, call Iva Schatz or Nancy Christel in the Office of Gift Planning, (805) 565-6058 or (800) 998-5652.

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