One of my favorite things is to be part of a casual conversation when the topic gets around to work: “And what do you do for a living?”
“I teach writing at Alaska Pacific University,” I say. “Have since 2003. I love my job.”
Confessing that I work hard and enjoy it, admitting that being among our students inspires me to try my best every day – these are statements that cause most people to stop and regroup.
“Loves her job? When was the last time I could say that?”
And then I offer the punchline. “I’m not unique,” I say. “At APU, we work at maintaining a community as well as a university. We work at getting along.”
Chitchat rarely ends there.
Sometimes I tell about APU’s intentionally small class sizes and how seminar-style teaching benefits students and instructors alike, especially when it comes to working with struggling writers, the cohort I most like to teach.
Other times, people want to know what it’s like teaching at a liberal arts university in a massively technological era, as if being educated to think, speak, write, invent and persuade had nothing to do with the success of businesses like REI or Zappos – Nos. 8 and 11, respectively, on a recent list of the top 100 best companies to work for.
Questions about the liberal arts and APU’s size are smart. Answers get at reasons why students thrive here.
Whether they’re pursuing two- or four-year degrees or completing master’s or doctorate work, whether they’re majoring in natural or social sciences, teaching or humanities, APU students learn quickly to identify their gifts and apply them. After all, it’s hard to sit anonymously in the back of the room when everyone knows your name and probably had classes with you last year. And the year before that.
Unlike larger schools, APU’s size and collegial atmosphere make it easy for students, as well as faculty and staff, to find fresh outlets for talents and energy. Unlike less nimble places, APU is pulled by the future. Informed risk-taking is rewarded here.
So yes, I love my job.
I’m part of a place that understands education is not bestowed, it’s a goal that’s worked at over a lifetime. I can’t imagine teaching – or learning – any place.
MAPP, Master’s of Applied Positive Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
MJ, Master’s of Journalism, University of California Berkeley
BA, English, Albertus Magnus College