Carla Baku, Associate Faculty in English, Eureka Campus
What do you love most about teaching at CR?
As a College of the Redwoods alum, I know firsthand that a community college education can be the strong foundation of the finest education. Coming back to CR, this time as a teacher, is a happy and unexpected turn of events. To be part of the process of helping others work toward their dreams; whatever those dreams may be?is a privilege and pleasure. I have wonderful colleagues and the BEST students!
What do you love most about your discipline?
Reading and writing is telepathy; we can literally read the minds of others every time we pick up a book. My students initially come to my class because it's required of them. At the end of the semester, though, they tell me things like, "I didn?t read much before this class, but now I'm going to used book stores to find things to read," and "I used to believe everything I saw on TV; now I'm investigating the things I hear in the media." And best of all (because I'm a writer): "I realized that the chapters in a book are basically a series of essays; if I can write a long essay, maybe someday I could write a book." I love that success in an English class is fundamental to success in the vast majority of other college classes. English is the beating heart of a liberal education.
Is there anything else you would like your students to know about you?
My philosophy is that we should work extremely hard in life, and have a lot of fun doing it. The whole world is standing in line to say "NO" to your dreams; you must never say no to yourself! Push at your perceived limits and I guarantee you will be surprised at what you are capable of learning and accomplishing. I expect students to always put forth their finest effort, I'm impatient with excuses, I will be cheering in your corner, and I will always do my best to match your effort inside and outside the classroom. Homemade cookies on essay due dates are also helpful.
Carla Baku is a Eureka local who followed a winding life path in her younger years, from commune living in the early 1970s, to home births and homeschooling in the decades that followed. Teaching at College of the Redwoods is truly a full-circle phenomenon for Carla. In the late 1990s, nearing the age of 40, she began taking classes at CR. While doing a variety of things to earn a living, she slowly chipped away at finishing her Associate?s degree. Upon completion of the AA, she was a 2007 recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer scholarship and was accepted as one of just twenty transfer students admitted that year to Stanford University. At age 52, after being advised and instructed by outstanding writer/professors such as Robert Bly and Tobias Wolff, Carla earned a BA in English, with distinction, from Stanford. Thanks to a second Jack Kent Cook scholarship award, she then went on to earn a graduate degree in writing from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. In addition to teaching, Carla is an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine; she writes and publishes fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and is at work on her second novel.