Mendocino College Faculty in Focus: Catherine Indermill
Catherine Indermill, professor of psychology and health at Mendocino College, had no intention of teaching when she finished her first master's degree at Texas A&M University. Her intention was to start a doctoral program and to devote her career to research in physical education/kinesiology, specifically in the area of motor learning. During a break in her studies, Indermill came to Mendocino County to visit her parents, who then lived at Jepson Vineyards, “for a little vacation.” She was looking for temporary employment, when a friend suggested she look for a part-time teaching job at Mendocino College (MC). Athough she had never considered teaching, she needed a job, and found one teaching physical education courses part-time and coaching softball at MC. She says she was surprised to find that she absolutely loved teaching! She was hired as a full-time faculty member in 1988, when her duties expanded to include overseeing the fitness lab, and serving as an academic advisor for the student athletes. “Whenever things get tough,” she grins, “I remind myself that I am here on vacation!”
Raised in San Mateo County in the San Francisco Bay Area, Indermill attended the City College of San Mateo, then Cal State Long Beach, where she received her B.A. Degree in Physical Education/Kinesiology. She went on to Texas A& M University to earn a research-based master's degree in kinesiology and physical education. During her early years at MC, Indermill noticed that many athletes were having academic problems related to their psychological well-being, for example, room-mate conflicts and other inter-personal issues. Her interest in learning to assist the student athletes more effectively, led her to earn a second master's degree in counseling/psychology in 1998. “Now, almost all the classes I teach are in the psychology department,” she notes.
As a student, Indermill worked in retail during high school and college. In addition, at San Mateo College, she was employed as a part-time track and field coach for Aragon High School, and while at Cal State Long Beach, she was a volunteer coach for world class athletes in hammer throw, discus, and javelin. She is proud that one of the athletes she coached, Bill Green, was 5th in the hammer throw in the Los Angeles Olympics. Later, while teaching part-time at MC, she worked as a teller at the Savings Bank in Hopland.
Indermill says that her passion is her students. “I got a part-time job here at MC because I needed work - I was headed for a career in research - but it was the relationships with the students that really changed things for me,” she says. “Every class is different,” she points out, so she gets to know a very diverse group of students. “It is humbling,” she says, “to have students trust you with personal things, and it is rewarding to have those connections.” Her favorite moments are when students “Get it,” and it enhances their lives in some way.
Student Sallie Clampitt, regards Indermill as “approachable,” because she respects students as people, and understands that her class may not be the most important thing in their lives. Student Moriah Moncivais says Indermill is known for “her stories,” since she often tells a true story as an example of a scientific concept.
Indermill believes most people would be surprised to know that she enjoys going to Drag Races, including the Winter Nationals, with her spouse, Fred Bellows. She adores her two “grand-girls,” and she also enjoys photography and scrapbooking.