Ryan Hiscocks: Politics and Perseverance

Political Science Professor details his academic journey

Aidan Lindell, Staff Writer

“I was not planning on studying political science at all,” said Political Science Professor Ryan Hiscocks. In fact, the discipline’s name itself seemed more off-putting than anything. 

“I couldn’t make any sense of it,” said Hiscocks. “Politics seems to be so…brutal and emotional, you know, like all of these strange aspects of human behavior that couldn’t connect to the word science.” 

That all changed when Hiscocks took his first political science class in 2001. Attending Long Beach City College, Hiscocks was enthralled by this new field of study. Having enjoyed high school government class, he said that he loved delving into the subject further in college. But what really got him to pursue it as a major was an after-class meeting with his professor, Dr. Donald Douglas.

“Dr. Douglas asked to talk to me after class, and he just asked me point blank, ‘What are you doing? What are you studying?’”  

Hiscocks said he honestly had no idea. 

Hiscocks recalled Douglas’ response: “‘You’re one of the best students I ever had. You’re wired for this. Do political science.’ I said okay, and that was that.” 

Hiscocks, now 47, is one of two political science professors at Los Medanos College. He started in 2017, but began teaching five years before that at Long Beach City College. After completing his master’s program at CSU Long Beach, he began an internship at his former community college. 

“I loved being a student. I loved being in college,” Hiscocks said. “And I just…didn’t know any other way to get political science back into my life other than to try teaching it.” 

So, when he found out that his old college was looking for interns, Hiscocks said he “went through a one-semester internship.”

“Two semesters after that, they called me. They were in a pinch, they needed an instructor and they hired me.” 

However, despite Hiscocks’ former association with the college, teaching did not come easy to him. Among his most prominent struggles were feelings of self doubt. A shy speaker, Hiscocks said he “would get horribly nervous” when speaking to an audience. 

“There was real fear there of walking into a classroom and you have to hold, you know, 30 to 40 students’ attention,” said Hiscocks. “It’s not an easy thing, especially when you’re breaking into it and you don’t have the experience.” 

Despite this, Hiscocks found inspiration to push past his insecurities and to just keep trying. 

“I knew if I did it enough, there would be a point where that apprehension, the nerves, the fear would no longer be, you know, such a prevailing or prevalent factor in the job,” Hiscocks said. “And I was right about that.”

As a teacher, Hiscocks finds that the most satisfying part of the job is hearing he’s made a difference in his students’ lives. For example, Hiscocks said he remembers one student who walked “ up to me at the end of the semester and said, ‘I’m going to vote because of you.’” 

“That’s one of the things I’m always trying to accomplish in the classes, to convince students that this is a worthwhile thing to do,” said Hiscocks. “They really need to participate because our democracy really doesn’t exist if people aren’t willing to engage.” 

A staunch defender of democracy and liberty, Hiscocks reveres late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. In particular, Hiscocks admires that Marshall “argued successfully one of the most important cases in American history, Brown Vs. Board of Education.” 

Brown was the Supreme Court decision that ended racial segregation in schools. The fact that Justice Marshall was one of the leading proponents of such a decision is why Hiscocks considers Marshall to have been “at the forefront of just so much that was going on during the Civil Rights Movement.”

In his classroom, Hiscocks always strives to create a welcoming environment for students, regardless of their personal political views. Hiscocks said that he tries “to teach up the middle.” 

“I do my best to have and create a classroom where no matter what my students’ ideology or political identity, they feel welcome and they feel able to express themselves.” 

To accomplish this, Hiscocks keeps his personal political views to himself. Even if a student asks him questions pertaining to his political party or ideology, Hiscocks makes it clear he will never answer them.. 

In his free time, Hiscocks enjoys fly fishing. His wife Ashley Hiscocks started the hobby about five years ago and as his two children grow older, wants to take them fly fishing too.

As for the future, Hiscocks said that he looks forward to “just keep trying to kind of perfect my craft.” 

Hiscocks is continuing to offer political science courses for Spring 2023. In addition to the regular Intro to Political Science and International Relations courses, Hiscocks proudly announced that a new Introduction to Law, Public Policy and Society course will be offered in spring, taught by Deputy District Attorney Diana Weiss. 

“We’re going to have a really dynamic program,” said Hiscocks, “And a lot of options for students interested in multiple aspects of law and law-related curriculum.”