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NISODPROFILES FEATURE CTN STAFF AND INSTRUCTORS


Rafael Castillo, CTN Director of Publications and Special Projects, and Lillian Huerta, ACC Ascender instructor, were recently featured in #NISODProfiles which highlight faculty, staff, administrators, groups, and organizations at NISOD’s member colleges who are doing extraordinary work on their campuses.

They each answered a number of interview questions including the following:

 

Rafael Castillo

What is your favorite part about being a community or technical college educator? I’ve taught at community colleges and universities, but I find community colleges most rewarding because of the smaller classes, the opportunity to engage students from the community, and the ability to connect with first-generation college learners.

What is your best piece of advice for new or existing colleagues at community or technical colleges in your field? Patience and empathy are the twin pillars I’d recommend to first-timers teaching community college students. In my classes, I share a short introduction to my struggles and fears as a first-generation learner to help students realize I understand their struggles.

Share a memorable teaching experience and explain why it was so impactful.
The most memorable experience–and there have been several–was mentoring a student who had fears about expressing himself in writing. He went on to write three books. I attended his first book signing at Barnes and Noble about 12 years ago.

 

Lillian Huerta

What is your favorite part about being a community or technical college educator?
I love serving as a link for the community and meeting students who represent diversity in its rawest form. They all come with unique stories and challenges, and to be part of their dynamic stories is challenging, yet inspiring!

How do you connect with your students? My students and I engage in community service projects such as cleaning up a local park. We get to spend some time outside of class bonding and making the world a better place. It breaks barriers and opens the lines of communication. My students see me in a different light, and I see them in a different light.

Share a memorable teaching experience and explain why it was so impactful.
I serve as a volunteer ESL and GED instructor. I recall a student in her 60s who was learning to read. She had a story that would break anyone’s spirit, but she rose above so much and was always humble and giving. She would bring food to class or sew a classmate’s daughter’s prom dress. When she read to the class for the first time everyone broke out into tears. We all felt like we were reading for the first time. It was a bonding experience that I carry with me, especially when I feel stressed. I keep reminding myself why I’m here and my passion lights up again.

 


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