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Faculty Profile: Meet dara, Your New FA Vice President

We would like to introduce your new Faculty Assembly Vice President, dara. Enjoy getting to know her better with the interview below!


“Tell us a little about yourself”

I was born in New York, and when I was about eight-years-old, my mom surprised me with a plane ride to California. She and I had tried to make the trip by car a couple of summers before, but we only made it as far as Columbus, Ohio before the heat and mosquitoes made the trip impossible (we were going to sleep in the car!). Heartbroken, my mom turned us around, and I thought I’d never ever see California. She saved up for the trip, and I was introduced to the magic that is The Golden State. Two years later, my family moved to Oceanside. We made the move via Greyhound bus, and when we arrived, before we even drove to our new home, we went to the beach just south of the pier. It was as if we had arrived in paradise because the beach where I’m from was always filled with horseshoe crabs, jellyfish, and trash. Aside from a short stint in Vista, I have lived locally since 1979. Of all the surrounding areas, I think Oceanside suits me best. I attended Libby and Laurel Elementary schools, Lincoln Junior High, and El Camino. After high school, and transferring from MCC, I earned my bachelor’s in English and master’s in Literature and Writing Studies at CSUSM. I am a devoted mother, a proud feminist, a partner to the amazing Kraig, an uppity ethical vegan person, a staunch human/civil rights advocate, and someone who appreciates honesty, humor, diligence, fairness, compassion, and kindness.

“What do you do for fun?”

I like to read; take monster-length walks; listen to music; watch trashy TV; watch really good TV and movies; eat; cook and bake vegan goodies; collect records; build Legos; and travel. A perfect vacation, no matter where, includes very long walks/hikes (we typically don’t rent cars on vacation), thrift-store shopping, visits to museums, and eating at excellent local places. We also like to visit my daughter who lives in Northern California. We don’t get to see her as often as we like, but whatever we can get, we’ll take!

“You teach composition and literature. What are some of your favorite books?”

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and The Posionwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver are three of my top twenty books of all time. However, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, to me, is the most important dystopic book ever written, and I think everyone should read it if only to be prepared for the present and our future. I love reading and teaching graphic novels because they invite students into reading…something they just don’t do for fun. So when I use an adaption of Shakespeare, Shelley, Bradbury, or Octavia Butler, and the book uses actual text/language from the author, students end up feeling more prepared, interested, and compelled to read more texts (in the original forms) by those classic authors.

“What brought you to MiraCosta?”

I have been on the Oceanside campus since shortly after I moved to Oceanside. My mom took music classes with the Megill brothers, and while she was in class, I would goof around on the lawns, in the library, by the dragon statue near the water tower, and in the old piano practice rooms. After high school, I attended MiraCosta and discovered what I wanted to do with my life after some tours through majors. When I decided to become an English professor, MiraCosta felt like the only option: my career home. I taught, as an Associate Faculty member, from 2001-2006, and then happily accepted a full time position.

“How did you get into teaching English Composition?"

When I was a K-12 student, I was a developmental math student, but of course we didn’t call it that. I was socially promoted through all my math classes, so it was preposterous to even think I could do anything related to math. Even though I wanted to save the planet, I knew I would never make it through the semesters of calculus I needed. I always enjoyed writing, and because I am concerned with/connected to social justice, I wanted to find work combining my interests. It was amazing when I took Gloria Floren for a composition class at MCC and saw everything I wanted to be, before me. During that semester, I had a moment of realization. In her class I witnessed a professional who could be her authentic self, who helped students find their voices, and who was respected by both students and faculty. I knew then I wanted to be an English/Composition professor. I am very happy I get to spend my workdays discussing outsider literature/underrepresented authors with students and helping them develop their critical reading, thinking, and writing skills so they can be taken seriously in their future endeavors.

“If you weren’t a professor, what would you be?”

The only other acceptable career for me would be to swim with whales in the wild, so it’s a good thing I have this job!

And… “What do you appreciate about the Faculty Assembly?”

I worked, briefly, with the union at Palomar, and I come from some union DNA; my grandmother was her union foreman for her sewing shop in Yonkers, NY. Labor conditions and employees’ rights have interested me and concerned me for as long as I can remember. I got my first paycheck job at eleven, delivering newspapers, and I have been employed every day since. I have been on the receiving end of unfair wages, no benefits, and the lack of respect workers face. Having spent some time on the academic and professional matters side of things with Academic Senate, I find being on FA Council to be incredibly valuable in rounding me out as a professional. I enjoy interacting with some colleagues I have mostly not had the opportunity to serve with previously, and FA Council efforts never feels like busy work. No matter what the issue or outcome, what we do with Faculty Assembly produces results that are immediate, serious, and concrete. I know it sounds masochistic, but I do appreciate being part of contract negotiations, and I know that involvement is making me a better faculty member and colleague; it’s strengthening my ability to help ensure we are treated equitably and respectfully.

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