Professor talks about COVID-19 outbreak and inspiration for photography


Courtesy of Patty Felkner

Photography Professor Patty Felkner. Felkner has been a photography professor for 30 years.

Professor Patty Felkner was worried and unsure about her photography classes when the COVID-19 outbreak occurred.
Felkner, who has been a photography professor at Cosumnes River College for 30 years, takes pride in being a happy person in life because she gets to do what she loves as her profession and is able to share that love with her students.
In March 2020, Felkner and her colleague took their beginning photography classes to San Francisco for a field trip. Eerie talks on the bus ride back home grew amongst the students about coronavirus as they were unsure if the outbreak would affect them.
Once they returned back home, CRC announced they had to shut down in-person classes because it was unsafe for them to continue due to the coronavirus outbreak. This forced all classes to be taught online overnight.
“It just shut down and it was so immediate,” Felkner said. “I was so worried about my family and my students.”
Felkner’s voice had become a little shaky when thinking back to the beginning of the shutdowns. “I was terrified,” she said.
“She’s always seen the good side of people,” said Photography Professor Kathryn Mayo, who’s been a colleague of Felkner at CRC for 14 years.
Mayo said she admires Felkner for who she is as a colleague and a person and always had a big smile when talking about her.
“I’ve been able to learn so much working with her,” Mayo said. “I see her not only as a colleague, but a mentor and a friend.”
Mayo said she felt she had the right partner to take on the problems they would face when it came to distance learning with Felkner’s experience and her insight of how students can learn.
One of the many students Felkner has touched is Neezy Jeffery, who is a photography major and has known Felkner since the spring of 2020.
Jeffery is a former student of Felkner’s and is now a teacher’s assistant for her. She said she chose to be Felkner’s TA because she has a lot of gratitude and respect for her.
Jeffery got to experience both how Felkner teaches before the pandemic and during.
“She went beyond expectations at that time,” Jeffery said. She also said how she felt Felkner was always open for her students and always made sure they were doing okay and learning to the best of their abilities.
“She doesn’t just treat you like a student, she treats you like a person,” Jeffery said. “She treats you like you’re an artist and it’s something you don’t really get in classes.”
Felkner said her love for photography began with her dad as he was an amateur photographer with a camera.
“He had a camera and I would kinda follow him around and eventually he let me use it and so I got really interested in photography when I was in high school,” she said. “But it was connected to him and his love for it.”
Felkner said the students are what makes CRC special to her.
“We have a lot of diversity both ethnically, culturally, age and disability, CRC just seems like such a wide open place,” Felkner said. “I’ve learned so much from my students.”
She also said her colleagues are what makes the school special as well.
“A lot of people who complain about their job complain because they don’t really like the people they work with,” Felkner said. “But for me, I really like the people that I work with and so it just makes it a lot of fun too to be at work.”
Most of CRC’s in-person classes will remain online to start the spring semester until Feb. 22. Felkner said she understands the decision of pushing back in-person classes due to the recent rise of COVID cases in the Sacramento region, but is looking forward to returning to the classroom with her students in the safest way possible.