Faculty Feature: Bobbi Alba Lets Her Light Shine as She Encourages Students’ Callings

by Saundri Luippold

Roberta "Bobbi" Alba, EdD, encourages her school counseling students to go out into the world to be lighthouses, guiding others to safety. Throughout her own career as an elementary and middle school teacher, counselor, and professor, Alba’s light has shined brightly. Her commitment to unconditional love illuminates in all she does.

Born in Oakland, Calif., Alba’s family moved to Minneapolis, where she grew up. They moved back to California when Alba was 15-years-old and she has resided in Long Beach ever since. Her heart and passion for teaching developed at a young age, as she always felt at home in school, considering teaching her spiritual gift. After earning a Bachelors in Speech Communication at Cal State Los Angeles, Alba spent a decade working in various teaching and counseling positions in K-12 schools. “I worked in many low income schools, which was challenging and strengthening at the same time. I had to lean on my faith while working with students who experienced plights on a daily basis,” she said.

In July 2010, Alba heard about Azusa Pacific University through a Dead Sea Scroll exhibit offered on campus. She visited the university on a scorching hot day, missing the coastal breeze. While sipping a lemonade to cool down, Alba recalls asking God if, despite the heat, she could work at a place as inviting as APU. Alba placed her contact information in an infobox, and received APU merch to share with her high school students. Alba hung an APU pennant on the wall in her counseling office, and prayed for God to lead her here. She earned a EdD in Educational Leadership in 2014 from Cal State Long Beach, and started teaching at APU in 2016.

Alba teaches graduate courses in the Department of School Counseling and School Psychology. “I love APU students, and the fact that I can pour my faith into them to become real difference makers makes my job worthwhile,” she said. Inspired by psychologist Carl Rogers’ motto to approach others with unconditional positive regard, Alba motivates her students to employ a mindset of unconditional love wherever they go. “If I can help students understand their soul’s worth, they can go out and help young souls in K-12 know their value too. Being a counselor is the most noble profession to me, and I’m blessed to help nurture students as they enter the field.”

During some personal and professional challenges in her life, Alba experienced a period of grief. As she struggled to find balance between pouring into others’ lives and taking care of her own, journaling became a self-care technique that led her to write a book, Seven Boxes: An Inspirational Memoir Celebrating the Strength to Move On. “I had my grad students in mind while writing, and they have always been my intended audience. I strived to share what I wish I would have heard while navigating loss,” she said. “Faith got me through it all.”

When asked which class is her favorite to teach, Alba had trouble deciding, exclaiming how much she loves them all. Her leadership and ethics class, however, has a special place in her heart because of how rewarding it is to watch students confidently bring their skills to life. Before students graduate and enter the work world, Alba plays the song “Speak Life” by TobyMac to encourage these new school counselors to be a source of light and hope for the childrens’ lives they will touch. “I remind my students to be lighthouses, because their light can truly save lives.”

Reflecting on the impact of education in her life as a student, teacher, and counselor, Alba is grateful to have been able to dedicate her life to what she loves. “I think of life like a story, and even though there have been challenging chapters, there have been many beautiful ones too. I’m blessed to be with students in this chapter of their lives,” she said. “In the end it’s God’s story.”

Saundri Luippold ’25 is a public relations intern in the Division of Strategic Communication and Engagement. Saundri is double majoring in Honors Humanities and English with a minor in Spanish. She serves as head copy editor of APU's literary journal, The West Wind, and writes on her personal blog, New Romanticism.