Weatherford College math instructor Andrew Ha does more than teach students how to crunch numbers. When he’s not shaping young minds he’s helping them shape their bodies as swimmers.
Ha spent the first few years of his life living in Coppell, but he was raised in Fullerton, California, where he was part of the Fullerton Aquatic Sports Team.
“I started swimming competitively at age 10 and was terrible,” he said. “I thought I was good but was humbled at my first swim meet. Thanks to several very good coaches throughout my career, I improved tremendously.”
Ha went on to achieve a Top 16 ranking in Southern California Swimming and was a California Interscholastic Federation consolation finalist three times.
While attending Texas Tech University as a graduate student and working as a graduate teaching assistant, Ha also picked up work as a swim coach and a water polo coach. He went on to coach many award-winning and nationally-ranked swimmers.
He is now the owner of Sigma Swimming, and he completed his Doctorate of Education from Texas Wesleyan in 2014.
“I really never thought swimming would be part of my career and life path, but I am now deep in it,” Ha said. “It takes up much of my time in the evenings and weekends. Running a business and also being a coach are challenging in many ways. My career in swimming has been both unexpected and organic.”
Ha came to Weatherford College almost 10 years ago as a math instructor. He said his favorite part of teaching is making students uncomfortable.
“Just kidding,” he laughed. “Well, sort of. Math isn’t easy for most of the students. As a result, they usually need work in their confidence, study habits, resilience, discipline and foundational math skills. My joy comes after they have developed in the aforementioned areas and are a rehabilitated math learner. In other words, they’ve learned to embrace the challenge through hard work.”
To further inspire his students, Ha often shares a childhood story.
“When I was 10, my mom made me stay in the bathroom doing a math problem until I got it correct,” he said. “It was the summer, the air conditioner wasn’t on and my friends were out having fun. I was in that bathroom for several hours. My mom taught me more than math that day.”
Since coming to teach at WC, Ha’s perspective on community colleges has evolved. Growing up in an upper-middle class environment, he said high school graduates looked down on two-year colleges.
“One needed to immediately be accepted to a university at minimum and, ideally, a Tier 1 or Ivy League,” he said. “However, I’ve learned that going to a community college like WC is both fiscally responsible and, for the majority of students, academically equivalent to the first two years of a university. I plan to have my children look at the option of a community college if it suits their life and career path.”
Ha said the student-to-teacher ratios are also much more favorable for the students at the community college level.
“When I was a student at Tech, I had classes of up to 600 students,” Ha said. “When I taught math as a grad student at Tech, I had classes of up to 40 students. My classes here are around 25 students.”
Ha added that what each student gets out of their WC experience is up to them.
“Students have the opportunity for challenging, enriching and university preparation here,” he said. “They also have the opportunity to do the minimum and check the boxes. There are instructors in each department that can take students as far as they want. It is their choice to take action.”