Greetings from Colorado!
I’m writing from Rocky Mountain National Park, where night came early to the mountains. I am about to embark on a 4 day (5 if things don’t go well) 30 mile, 12,650 feet above sea-level backpacking route. It’s a big step for me in many ways: I’ve never been so far west; I have never gone on an extended overnight hiking trip; and I haven’t pushed my body like this since before a major illness and long recovery in 2010.
I recently finished co-teaching a GRE Summer Prep Series at USG–which was a huge success due to hosting the series in USG’s new Active Learning Classroom. When I return from my hiking trip the Fall semester will be upon us, my first as staff and student at USG. This Fall I will begin the part-time night MBA through the University of Maryland Smith School of Business, my second graduate degree from UMCP. This is actually a theme in our office. Many of us are perpetual educators and students. I sometimes joke that I’m collecting all the degrees. In a way, it keeps the student experience, and our capacity to empathize, relevant. In others, it shows how deeply invested we are in personal and community growth.
I came to the Center for Academic Success (CAS) while teaching as an adjunct at UMCP and quickly found the luxury of working one-on-one and in group settings without the burden of assigning grades formative to my personal pedagogy. Academic support at CAS is really an exceptional model for students and staff alike, with our opportunity to share and learn. Most of the time, I think students don’t realize just how much we learn from them, not only in course content, but in how to teach and how to speak in a way that has meaning and significance in advanced applied linguistics. It’s easy to be excited about those interactions, and as excited and nervous as I am for my next couple days away, I am equally excited for all that lays ahead.
Rachel Carstens received her MFA from the University of Maryland’s Creative Writing Program. Rachel is an accomplished poet and creative writer who brings her years of experience with language and structure to bear when helping students to strengthen the clarity and cohesion of their work. Rachel was previously an adjunct instructor with the UMCP English Department, where she taught Composition and Creative Writing courses. Her writing has appeared in The Atlas Review, JMWW, From the Cat Bird Seat, and she was featured in the 2015 Our City Festival in Washington, D.C.