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“When I first came here I was very idealistic; I thought, ‘Wow, I’m going to teach at a community college where all kinds of students get to go to school,’” she says. “What always surprises me when I talk to people outside of community college life is that I’m still just as idealistic and still just as thrilled about the students that are here. Some students are 14-years-old and some are 70-years-old, and they’re here for all sorts of reasons; it’s the most democratic institution of education in our country.”
Susan’s idealism doesn’t stop there. She’s responsible for the college’s enhanced creative writing track that offered six credits when she first arrived. After going through the appropriate steps, Susan’s proposal to enhance the program was approved, boosting the track from six to 24 credits as it stands today.
“No one said to me you can’t do this. Anytime I’ve proposed something at the school in 15 years, I’ve been able to do it. At a big school I’m not sure I’d be able to do that,” she says. “I think that’s true for students. If they take advantage, this is a great place to try anything. A student wanted to start a coffeehouse, which is what happened five years ago and is now the Amaranth Coffeehouse, and I said, ‘OK if you can figure out how to do it.’”
In addition to her traditional teaching load of English, fiction and nonfiction writing classes, Susan is a co-faculty advisor for the college’s student-run literary publication the Amaranth, and coordinator of the Student Literary Competition, an international writing competition exclusive to community college members of The League for Innovation, an organization that encourages community colleges to support creativity in art and writing. Students who submit their work to the Amaranth have the opportunity to compete in this competition that includes a monetary reward and literary recognition, an honor that has been given to two AACC students in 2006 and 2007.
“I’m very excited about the literary competition,” she says. “We’re bringing four wonderful writers to campus and I think our creative writing students will be getting opportunities that they’ve never had.”
Her excitement is equally matched when discussing the start of the new academic year.
“The students bring so much to the classroom; I never know what to expect,” she says. “I have a whole new group of fiction writers and on the first day of class I had them go around and introduce themselves and I was in awe of what they had to say and what they were bringing to our class.”
Susan describes herself as “the biggest cheerleader around here,” coming alongside students who are in need of academic direction, literary guidance, and creative encouragement.
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