When her children were young, Marty Gonzales was an avid volunteer in her daughters’ school and numerous activities. But it was her work with the Mile High Girl Scouts Council that made her realize she wanted more schooling than the bachelor’s degree in business she’d earned a decade earlier at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “I decided to pursue sociology because I’d gotten very interested in society and poverty,” says Marty. “There’s so much inequality, and understanding why that is fascinates me.”
A Love of Teaching
Raising children was her main priority for many years, but in 1985, Marty went back to school—with an eye on teaching at the college level. “I have always wanted to teach and I always taught in some capacity,” says Marty, who pursued a secondary teaching certificate in Business Administration, and later in Social Studies.
She returned to CU Boulder—she’s a Boulder native—for bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in sociology. When she came across a full-time position teaching at FRCC, she simply had to apply, and low and behold, she was hired in 1994. Marty completed all her Ph.D. course work, but not her dissertation.
An Involved FRCC Leader
Today, Marty is the lead faculty for sociology and she supervises all part-time sociology, anthropology and political science faculty. From 2005 to 2008, she was chair of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department.
Aside from teaching, she’s gotten involved in a variety of ways through the years—from serving on the Professional Development Committee (she’s co-chair this year) to helping develop a learning community, which pairs one sociology course (SOC 101) with an introductory English course (ENG 121). She and a committee also helped develop College 101, which later became new student orientation. This summer, she is joining several task forces, including the Campus Center for Teaching and Learning, the Instructor Development and Engagement Plan, and the Pilot Project about Embedded Study Skills.
An Experiential Approach to Teaching
Though she loves her committee and task force involvement at FRCC, Marty feels most at home in the classroom. She prides herself on her use of experiential teaching methods. “I am more of a facilitator of the learning process,” she says. “I don’t like to think of myself as a talking head. Instead I try to set up classes so that students figure out the answer.” Students appreciate her unique approach. “I try to open their eyes to things they may never have thought about before. If that leads them to new possibilities or to sociology as a career, that’s really satisfying.”
Marty says landing at Front Range was a little bit of luck—and probably her good fate. “Our mission at FRCC is to teach, and that is perfect for me,” she says. “That’s always been my focus. The other sociology instructors are also very enthusiastic teachers, and that’s really cool. They like being here just like I do.”
At 18 years and counting, Marty says she’s as excited about her FRCC career today as she was in the beginning. “One of the things I love about it here is that there are always a lot of opportunities to do different things,” Marty says. “I just never know what will happen next, and that’s the main reason I’m still here and happy to be.”