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MDUSD Profile - Dodi Zotigh

Dorann “Dodi” Zotigh, CST, MS

Program Coordinator, Career and Technical Education Center

Mt. Diablo Adult Education


Where you are from and where you live now?

I'm from the East Coast (Pennsylvania until 10 and New York until 17)


How long you’ve been teaching at Adult Ed?

I've been at MDAE 10 years as of December 1st!


Tell us about your military experiences and history.

I joined the US Army Reserves at 17 and chose Operating Room Specialist as my occupational specialty. I wanted to be a pediatric neurosurgeon at the time and felt that would help me figure out if I liked the operating room! I joined before 9/11 and was in my freshman year at Cornell studying neuroscience when the towers fell. It made me realize that I needed to take some time and figure out what I really wanted to do with my life, so I moved to Washington state. I was stationed at Ft. Lewis and my unit was mobilized for Operating Enduring Freedom. I worked as a shift lead for a year and a half at Madigan Army Medical Center. I was the NCO (non-commissioned officer) in charge of the Head and Neck Surgical Unit at Fort Lawton, Washington, and was honorably discharged on January 31, 2011 after serving 11 years.


What sort of expectations did you have prior to going into the service?

I didn't have any expectations really. I actually joined out of rebellion to be honest!  I had a full ride to Cornell and deferred it to go to basic training and surg tech school. I didn't know who I was and being in the military helped me to develop my natural leadership skills and independent personality.


How did real life match up?

It didn't! It's a completely different world being in military training and on missions, both stateside and overseas. (I, luckily, never deployed overseas and only served stateside.)


What were some of the more rewarding  aspects of your Army experience and, conversely, some of the more challenging aspects?

Rewarding aspects were the training and leadership development. They have this way of taking teenagers and making them into very capable leaders who can handle anything.  I learned a lot about myself and what I am able to handle from my Army training. Challenging for me was being a lesbian while serving under “Don't Ask, Don't Tell”.


How did your service experience influence or form the adult you are now?

It pushed my natural leadership tendencies and gave me the skills to step up and lead from within. In the army they train everyone to be able to lead because you never know when you'll have to take over on a mission. It's an interesting dynamic when you're barely 18 years old!


What drew you to education, and what was appealing about teaching Surgical Technology?

I was trained and worked as a surgical technologist for eight years when I was hired at MDAE. I moved to the Bay Area in November of 2008 and saw the posting for the Surgical Technologist Program Director. Once I began teaching, I fell in love! I taught the Basic Sciences (anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, etc.) for the program and I loved seeing students grow and develop their skills. It was amazing when they went into the operating room and applied what they learned in the classroom. We received such wonderful feedback from our clinical sites about how well the students were doing and that their knowledge level was much higher than students they'd had from other schools! It makes you feel so good to know they are doing well and that you were a small part of that!


How has your Army experience informed your teaching practice? 

My students would like to joke that they knew their teachers were military trained because of our high expectations. Some mantras from the military made their way into my classroom like "If you're on time, you're late and if you're early, you're on time". I knew from my experience that having high expectations were possible and that my students could meet them with the right supports.


What has been a recent “a-ha” moment in your classroom?

I had many over the years. When students go from not being able to scrub their hands and within a few months they can set up for a surgical case.


What is the most rewarding aspect of being a teacher?

The most rewarding aspect is being able to see students grow in their skills as a surgical technologist and in their professionalism as well.


Can you tell us about some of your more memorable teachers and how they influenced you?

Mr. Buch was one of my favorite and most memorable teachers. He taught most of my science classes in high school and had a way of breaking down the subjects so that everyone understood it. In college, Professor Villarejo was an inspiration. She held a small class for those in my major about Susan Sontag. She had a way of pushing you to think outside the box and challenge you to be better.


Tell us something people may not know about you but that you don’t mind sharing?

Hmm… I’m a pretty open book, but I don’t think many people know that I was a “mathlete” in high school – the captain of the Math League!


What are you reading now?

“Daring Greatly” by Brené Brown and “Fluffing the Concrete: Making the Most of Foreign Prison or Anything Else” by Mack Dryden (just picked up this one at a conference last week - he was the keynote speaker).


What would you like your students to be able to say about their experiences with you?

That they grew as a person as well as becoming an awesome surgical technologist.


What makes you #MDUSDProud?

Being part of a team focused on student achievement and growth!