Lorraine Calbow

Lorraine Calbow is Professor Emerita of Counseling at South Mountain Community College. She is an accomplished author and educator, and a founder of the Storytelling Institute at SMCC – the only in the country to offer an Academic Certificate. She was one of the original seven faculty members at SMCC.

Lorraine Calbow, ca. 1980
Image provided by South Mountain Community College

Lorriane Calbow was first hired to work at Phoenix College in 1979, but moved to South Mountain Community College in the summer of 1980. When the college first opened, the campus was still under construction, so faculty taught at the nearby Catholic Church and their offices were in mobile trailers. In her role as Counseling Faculty, Calbow also helped students register for classes.

Counseling staff registering students at Holy Family Catholic Church, ca. 1979-1980
Image provided by South Mountain Community College

Looking back, Calbow remembers a lot of challenges facing the new college. On one hand, state and local policymakers lacked faith that the college would be successful. This influenced even the physical makeup of the college itself. Calbow remembers that SMCC was built with collapsible, temporary walls, in the event that the school was not successful.

Lorraine recounts early construction at SMCC

Calbow also remembers the SMCC faced an uphill battle with other “sister” colleges in the Maricopa District, which were home to faculty and administrators who doubted the investment made in South Phoenix. Calbow credits Dr. Raul Cardenas – the founding president – for intentionally leading the campus through these difficult early years. Faculty, staff, and students worked hard to alleviate political and social tensions in a community charged with complex and competing priorities. Their “Harvard of the Southwest” strove to reconcile political and racial tensions in South Phoenix.

Lorraine remembers the nickname staff and faculty gave to SMCC.

During her time at SMCC, Calbow witnessed and initiated significant changes. Shifts in administrative leadership effected the campus climate, while new academic programs helped to advance poorly-prepared students to the challenge of academic rigor. Drawing on her psychology training and storytelling expertise, Calbow was a diving force and founder of the Storytelling Institute, the only in the country to offer an Academic Certificate in Storytelling.

Lorraine thinks back on helping to found the Storytelling Institute

Ms. Calbow used her counseling expertise and her intellectual interests to connect storytelling to many academic areas at SMCC. She stated that everyone has stories of events, experiences and places that they are passionate about which makes learning more interesting when relating through storytelling. 

Lorraine Calbow
Student Researchers: Stephen Loper & Tommy Pham

Student Researchers: Stephen Loper & Tommy Pham, Fall 2018
Faculty Co-Author: Summer Cherland