Rebecca Walker Clarke
Adjunct Faculty, English
It’s never difficult for me to remember how many years I’ve taught part-time at BYU because I stood up in front of my first class when my first child was two weeks old. At that point I was a year into the Marriage and Family Therapy graduate program. My daughter is sixteen now, and during those sixteen years I’ve taught parenting classes, preparation for marriage classes, a Bible as Literature course, and most consistently Writing 150. On that first day of class so many years ago, I vividly remember sitting underneath the coat racks outside the door of the classroom next to students in the old Smith Family Living Center who were wondering out loud if anyone knew anything about their professor. I was too wobbly and frightened in that moment to speak up and say I was the professor, partly because I was only twenty-six and looked more like a student myself. Students’ questions about me as their professor are different now: just last week a student asked if I’ve ever had a BYU student call me “Mom.”
And that’s what it all comes back to for me. I love my work as a teacher, and I often describe it as “a great Mom job.” I love the part-time-ness of it, the flexibility to skip a semester of teaching if the need arises (even though I’ve only availed myself of that the semesters after the births of my three subsequent children). I enjoy the opportunities teaching opens for me to do other work on campus, like editing research articles for the nursing faculty and the personal essays of the winners of the David O. McKay essay contest. I like being around students—whose enthusiasm for learning makes me happy to be alive, and I like the university programs and events that I stay attuned to because I’m on campus. I love that I get to interact with smart, funny, well-read colleagues who give great book recommendations. Mostly I love that after I teach I usually feel (although never, ever during grading would I ever, ever say this) more invigorated and like I will be a better mom because of my work. As I write this, I’m especially grateful to my father—now a retired BYU English professor—who stepped up to meet a critical need sixteen years ago and babysat Eliza so I could teach that class.
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