A History of a History Professor

Brennan MacLean

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






The image of an intellectual with a Russian accent against a backdrop of Mexico blanketed by fog, proves to be a perfect climate for storytelling.

One can’t help but observe the rich history this City College History Professor holds. Sofia Laurein, no relation to the famous Italian actress, although much of her personality exudes manifestations of such talent, she has many other abilities and experiences to tell of.

An articulate portrayal, told through the eyes of this clever raconteur, leads us on a journey through various La Jolla and Seaport Village art galleries before heading to the residence of Herbert York a world renowned nuclear physicist. Then on to brunch with the Head of German Intelligence and international scientists made famous in history for creating the Hydrogen Bomb.

Lively, she recapitulates the “incredible highlight of her life” meeting with scientists to help research and present the history of nuclear research during an international conference. During lunch, a game of sorts began when Dr. Johnson, a nuclear physicist, offered a symbolic $5 to the most witty and entertaining individual at the table. Laurein, the extrovert, walked away with the $5 bill, and on it signatures of all the dignitaries and world renowned physicists attending.

Her story leads to the Netherlands, Turkey and the 44 other countries she explored before heading to Florence where she once had an epiphany. Visiting this city with her husband, a pilot, she realized she was at one, and at home, perhaps returning from a past life.

Born in the Ukraine, her passion started young as an artist at age nine. Visiting her office is similar to visiting a gallery with post-impressionist paintings on display. A piece titled “Legacy” hangs proudly from her wall after being showcased in the LRC for the “Beauty in Captivity” historical exhibit.

“I am extremely passionate about painting. I love it,” she says.

She has earned three college degrees: a B.A. in Philology, an M.A. in Philology, both from Odessa State University, and a Ph.D in World History from Moscow Humanities University.

Her sophisticated stories speak volumes, tending to take the listener back in time.

“I was born too late. I would have loved to live in Renaissance Italy,” she says.

Her resume is saturated with major achievements, like a dissertation titled, “Organized Crime in the United States of America: Problems and Tendencies,” which has led her to gain notoriety and respect as an expert witness and cultural adviser for Federal Courts in San Diego and Los Angeles.

Cases include testifying for the defense in the biggest drug trafficking raid in history involving 13 tons of cocaine, and another involving the kidnap and murder of five people in Hollywood. She is exuberant with a passion for justice.

Her delicate but authoritative voice rings reminiscent of characters from the past. Perhaps, she is living vicariously as Catherine the Great, whom she once dressed up as for a play.

“She is an incredible character who distinguished herself in a variety of ways. If there was a character in which I lived vicariously, it would be her,” she admits.

Her history as a professor started at Odessa State University. In 1989, she began as an adjunct instructor at Mesa. She has been a professor at City since 2006. Her philosophy of professorship is influenced by her history.

“I grew up in a multi-cultural society. It seems natural for me to be at City. It’s multi-faceted. Truthfully, I like being here over anywhere else,” she says.

Between her paintings and lecturing, Professor Laurein is proud to present an upcoming workshop to individuals within the Math Center. She is currently corroborating with the Center along with her honor students on the history of math, a topic that fascinates her.

Be sure to visit the Math Center Dec. 9 for the presentation.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email