September 18, 2013
Photo of Chad Garfield

Student Success: Cartographer Returns for Associate Degree

It was a meeting as comfortable as when friends get together. Colin Garfield met up with FRCC faculty Chad Kerst. It was former student and professor, each interested in each other’s lives.

Praise for Philosophy Faculty Chad Kerst

After he graduated from Front Range, Colin wrote an email to President Andy Dorsey about the great experience he had as a student. “I had the privilege of being taught by a handful of fantastic and memorable instructors,” Colin wrote. One of several professors Colin praised was Chad, who teaches philosophy.

Excited for Class

“Chad was a very memorable instructor,” Colin wrote to the president. “He is absolutely passionate about his area of study and made learning difficult concepts quite entertaining. I was also able to retain a significant amount of the course material because of the excitement I had to go to class each week. His personality and humor shine and make learning the material enjoyable.”

Not Quite Ready for College

Colin calls himself “one of those elusive natives” of Colorado. He grew up in Fort Collins, the son of a middle school teacher. After graduating high school, he came to Front Range. “But at 19 I didn’t realize I wasn’t ready for college,” he says. “I did pretty well in high school, but I wasn’t ready for the transition.” So he got a job.

He’s been a cartographer –that’s map making – for nine years. He works for CACI, a subcontractor under the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. CACI believes in continuous learning, so, when the time was right, Colin came back to Front Range. He graduated with an Associate of Arts degree in 2012, and he took advantage of guaranteed transfer to Colorado State University to major in geography.

Lively Classes

In looking back on his Front Range experience, Colin sees great teachers. Chad, who has taught Ethics and Introduction to Philosophy at Front Range for seven years, was one.

“He definitely stood out,” Colin says. “He engaged students in conversations, relating the material to us. He really tried to get on our level. Not as a peer but as a mentor. His classes were very lively, not boring at all. And I became more interested in philosophy.”

Colin, who calls himself a “total uber crazy dork who nerds out on computers,” also was captivated by science-related courses such as Astronomy. And English Composition. Go figure.

It’s Fun to Turn on the Lights

For his part, Chad says “it’s interesting what people remember from class. Teaching is about learning what to work on. When you have smart, engaged students, get them to talk more. For me, teaching is the most immediate way I can help people create value. It’s about creating value, not about philosophy itself. It’s about success. I ask students, ‘What do you want?’ and then I try to make it happen. It’s fun to turn on the lights. It has very little to do with me. I’m just facilitating it. It’s super fun to create the ability to pursue goals.

“And with someone like Colin, it’s way easier when the students are engaged in learning.”

 

About the author:

John Feeley is director of public relations at Front Range Community College. He’s a somewhat-frequent bicycle commuter, a certified soccer referee, and a newspaper editor whose subscription ran out.

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